Winning Alaska: Electing Senator Dan Sullivan

From day one, i360 was a vital partner for our campaign. Their data and technology were critical in allowing us to identify and target the right audience, delivering a narrow victory in one of the most competitive races of the cycle. - Ben Sparks, Campaign Manager


The Challenge

In the most expensive race per-capita in the nation, Republican Dan Sullivan sought to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Begich in the midterm election of 2014.

To get there, the campaign had two challenging races ahead of them. First, they must win the competitive three-way primary against the popular Lt. Governor and the 2010 GOP Senate nominee, and then quickly turn their focus to the general election. As if that wasn’t difficult enough, outside liberal special interests, including Harry Reid’s Super PAC, were outspending the campaign by millions of dollars. In addition, Sullivan was facing what many believed to be the best Senate campaign in the country.

With the majority of Alaska voters registered as Unaffiliated or Non-Partisan, the campaign knew that they would be unable to rely on party registration to identify the partisan leanings of the electorate. Furthermore, the remote nature of Alaska coupled with crowded media markets and limited inventory meant that the campaign would have to find ways to personalize their outreach and cut through the clutter.

In addition, while the Sullivan campaign’s ground game had been focused on delivering victory in the primary, the Begich campaign was already running a massive registration and turnout operation, with at least 16 field offices and 90 full time staff.

Organized labor and outside liberal allies had also flooded the state with hundreds of canvassers, working to smear Dan Sullivan’s record and turn out voters for Mark Begich.

The Sullivan campaign knew they would have to outmatch their opponents while working with limited resources. That’s where i360 came in.

The Solution

From the beginning, the campaign knew that a strong and smart ground game fueled by data and analytics would be critical to victory in both the primary and general elections. To meet this need, the campaign researched multiple options, ultimately placing their trust in i360.

i360’s database, which includes hundreds of variables on each individual, as well as a full suite of predictive models, formed the core of the campaign’s data and targeting operation. In addition, leveraging i360’s unique closed-loop system, the campaign used i360’s predictive dialer and mobile canvassing applications for their field efforts to ensure all data collected in the field was accessible from the campaign’s database in real time. And, i360’s state of the art walkbook routing technology increased the productivity of volunteers calculating the most efficient routes possible – a critical advantage given the large distance between homes in many parts of Alaska.

These tools provided a decisive advantage to the Sullivan campaign over their primary competitors. After a hard fought three-way primary, the campaign ultimately secured an eight-point victory, driven largely by their successful efforts on the ground.

Immediately following the primary, the Sullivan campaign worked closely with i360’s analytics team to develop a custom “Deep Dive” analysis of the race. This analysis, in conjunction with modeling developed by the i360 data science team, would form the basis for the campaign’s political and digital operations moving forward through the general election, providing contact universes, turnout projections, and real-time simulations of the state of the race.

Using this data, the campaign was able to identify exactly which voters to turnout, which they needed to persuade, and which issues would resonate with them most. Using i360 data and modeling to guide targeting, the campaign delivered:

• 400,000 door-to-door attempts
• 800,000 live phone calls
• 2 MM+ mail pieces

The campaign also made use of i360’s extensive modeling and consumer data on unregistered voters to identify registration prospects, contributing to 9,327 more registered GOP voters on Election Day 2014 than when Begich was first elected in 2008.

Targeting i360’s online segments allowed them to reach these same universes online for a fully integrated approach.

By incorporating i360 data to increase targeting accuracy and efficiency, the Sullivan ground game outmatched the vaunted Begich registration and turnout operation.

The Results

Though public polling showed a race well within the margin of error, the Sullivan campaign entered Election Day confident of victory. i360 modeling and analytics had allowed the campaign to pinpoint turnout, as well as their position in absentee and early voting returns. More than a week after the polls closed, news networks confirmed what i360 and the Sullivan campaign had known for days – that Dan Sullivan had defeated Mark Begich and would be Alaska’s next Senator.

“From day one, i360 was a vital partner for our campaign. Their data and technology were critical in allowing us to identify and target the right audience, delivering a narrow victory in one of the most competitive races of the cycle.” – Ben Sparks, Campaign Manager

About i360

i360 is the leading data and technology firm for the free market political and advocacy community. As a first-of-its-kind enterprise, i360 fully integrates and continually updates a database of all 250 million 18+ Americans, including the 190 million who are registered to vote. The information in the i360 database goes beyond voting data and includes hundreds of variables on every individual including survey response data, consumer demographic, lifestyle and behavioral data, census data and precinct level election returns, and more that can be used to determine and reach your targets.

i360’s comprehensive data is a unique combination of hard data points and predictive modeling. The dataset incorporates extensive political identification, coalition and membership information collected by way of in-person, phone and online surveys, as well as through partner relationships. In addition, this data is enhanced by a team of data scientists who build and refine sophisticated predictive models, or microtargeting, that predict how likely voters are to support issues or candidates and how likely they are to take an action, like voting.

It is i360’s combined involvement and expertise in data, technology, advertising and analytics coupled with our dedication to helping our clients win that make us the perfect partner for a campaign of any size.