Political parties need to manage a lot of data about:
- voters (will they vote for us?)
- members (what do they want us to do?)
- supporters (when and how will they help?)
- local issues (can we answer press and public questions?)
- events (what is happening when and where?)
So we need people to help collect data, enter, analyse and present it.
When you have decided what you want to do, let us know by completing the data task survey, and we will get back to you.
We collect data in a number of ways.
- These can be online, telephone or door-to-door. We design single sheet forms for 60 second surveys. We knock voters' doors, ask them to fill in the survey and leave it sticking out of the letterbox, for us to collect in an hours time. Or we run online surveys aimed at potential supporters. In either case, we need people skilled at designing surveys.
- This is the name used for knocking on doors and asking voters politely about the issues that concern them, and whether they might consider voting for us. It is the most effective way of getting votes in elections. On polling day we remind our potential supporters to go and vote. We produce walk lists of registered voters to canvass, on which the canvassers record the results.
- Electronic data
- All political parties are entitled to the register of electors, so we can contact voters. There is the current one, updated each month, and marked registers from last year, showing who voted in an election (but not how they voted). There is also a lot of public open data, such as statistics from the 2011 census. In the USA political parties purchase a lot of commercial data from market research companies, but the Green Party cannot afford that, as we do not accept donations from big business.
- We also need to research information to answer questions from the press, voters and in public consultations, and develop Green Party alternative plans. So we need people to do literature research on specific questions.
To be able to analyse and use data, we need it in an electronic form. So we need volunteers to enter data into spreadsheets and databases (including the NationBuilder database behind this site). Here follow some examples of the type of data entry tasks volunteers do.
- Updating voter registers
- Each month an update of additions, removals and deletions to the electoral register come out. We need to update our databases with these changes. Then after each election we buy the marked registers (on paper) and enter into a spreadsheet whether someone voted in that election.
- Canvassing data
- Every time someone goes out to knock on doors to ask people how they will vote, they enter the data on canvassing sheets (also called walk lists). Then we need someone to enter that data into our canvassing database behind www.greenoxfordshire.com. If we get the data entered quickly, we can adjust the routes of the next canvass, based on what we learn.
- Survey data
- Since we get very high response rates to 60 second surveys, we end up with a big pile of surveys to enter and analyse. The best practice is to produce street newsletters to put through doors a week or two later, so the data entry has to be done quickly. Some forms can be scanned, using optical mark recognistion. Others we have to type into data entry screen on www.greenoxfordshire.com.
- Elections result data
- We keep track of the results of each election in each local council ward, and, thanks to the tallies, in each polling district of a few streets. We enter the results into spreadsheets.
To make use of our data we need to analyse it. This can be as simple or complicated as necessary. Here are some kinds of analysis we could do.
- Finding and listing data
- The simplest form of data analysis is to search through it, and extract a list. We have good filtering tools in our NationBuilder database behind www.greenoxfordshire.com.
- Geographical mapping
- A common use of data in a political party is to map things, so that we know where to distribute leaflets, canvass, set up stalls and so on. So geographical data analysis is really useful, from simple map creation to modelling clusters.
- Statistical analysis and modelling
- In the USA data scientists have used machine learning to create models that can predict the strength of party support and the probability of voting from demographic data and past voting results. This is something we could do here.
To make use of this data, we need to present it in forms that campaigns can understand and act upon. Here are some useful ways to present data.
- Walk lists (or canvassing sheets)
- The standard tool for use by canvassers. It lists the names and addresses of every registered voter in a few streets, with places for the canvassers to record responses from the voters who answer the door. It can include a map to help them find the places. We use NationBuilder to produce our walk lists, to ease data entry afterwards.
- When you turn data into infographics, they are easier to understand and have an immediate impact. Infographics are ideal for Facebook posts, and can also be used in leaflets.
- Plans and schedules
- There are several ways of representing events over time, for use in planning campaigns and scheduling events and e-mails. They can be as simple as a calendar, as interactive as Trello lists, or as detailed as a Gantt chart.
- And finally, we can integrate different represntations of data to produce reports.
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