State and National Democrats Are at Each Other’s Throats Over Voter Data | NTK Network State and National Democrats Are at Each Other’s Throats Over Voter Data

State and National Democrats Are at Each Other’s Throats Over Voter Data

State parties control massive amounts of voter data and sell it to the national party and groups as a revenue source. But the DNC wants full control of that data ahead of the 2020 elections.

By NTK Staff | 12.18.2018 @10:30am
State and National Democrats Are at Each Other’s Throats Over Voter Data

State party leaders and top Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffers are meeting Tuesday in Washington, D.C. to negotiate an increasingly ugly dispute over voter data.

National Democrats are interested in forming a data trust to house and distribute voter data for all groups, including the DNC, state parties, campaigns, and special interest groups like Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club.

But the data is actually owned by the state parties themselves, and it serves as a big source of income for the often cash-strapped state parties.

A key point of contention is who would control the data. Now, state parties control their own voter files, feeding it to a national voter file that the DNC pays to have analyzed and put into a form that is usable for individual campaigns. But by owning their own data, state parties get to make money selling it to candidates.

South Carolina Chairman Trav Robertson recalls serving as Oklahoma’s state party executive director in lean times. “If I didn’t have that revenue, I’d have had to shut it all down,” he said.

Republicans have centralized their voter data in a trust, which is what DNC Chair Tom Perez is hoping to do. But he’ll need buy-in from the state parties, and they’re not likely to go along with Perez’s plan if it means one of their main revenue sources will disappear.

“Here’s the bottom line: We all want to win,” Perez told The Associated Press in an interview ahead of Tuesday’s private session. Yet he alluded to the obvious tensions, saying “a lot of stakeholders … have very important equities in the process.”

Perez supports creation of a data trust — a legal entity separate from the party itself — designed for the national party, state party, Democratic candidates and the left’s special interest groups to share data in real time. Republicans already use a similar structure, and Democrats concede it was an underappreciated variable in President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory.

Tuesday’s meeting will go a long way in determining how Democrats effectively manage voter outreach efforts during the 2020 campaign.

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