Yesterday during his press conference, President-elect Donald Trump vowed to bring jobs to the states whose voters helped him win. He talked about car manufacturing jobs that will remain in the U.S. once he takes office in a few days and the companies that won’t be offshoring work because of his intervention.
But back to that comment about the states that helped him — just what does he mean? Didn’t all of America elect him? That’s where examining how Trump won the election matters — because many believe it was his campaign’s command of data that put him over the top.
Enter Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign's digital director and co-founder of San Antonio-based Web design, online marketing and branding firm Giles-Parscale. Parscale declined Target Marketing’s repeated requests for comment on this article.
In previous interviews about the Trump campaign strategy, Parscale said the data showed the Electoral College would be the path to victory — not the popular vote. And indeed on Jan. 6, Congress certified the Electoral College votes and declared Trump the winner, CNN reports. This, despite a nearly 2.9 million-vote margin in favor of challenger Hillary Clinton, Time says on Dec. 20.
“We never fought for the popular vote,” Parscale told NPR’s Morning Edition on Dec. 6.
Parscale’s Focus on States Giving an Electoral College Advantage to Trump
“We created models that look in all different directions,” Parscale told NPR. “And by the last few days, I was seeing that we were going to win way over 300 electoral votes.”
Interviewer Rachel Martin commented.
“You mapped out one way to win, and this was it,” she said.
“I think that is the way to win an election,” he says. “You get 270. I think the argument was, which states were the most likely ones to do that? And at the end, you know, I felt that was Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and New Hampshire. I knew that, out of that, I had three or four different paths to victory. And by the week of, I knew that the Rust Belt was going to be the more easy one to win, so I was moving targeted money around.”
The Strategy Behind the Data
Before deciding which voters to target Parscale and a small team pored over surveys, polling and daily election simulation models.
Then as volunteers knocked on doors for Trump, Parscale had them entering real-time data into the campaign’s database about the voters they contacted. Pushing a button on iPhone and Android apps, the volunteers acknowledged voter contact and that meant the Trump campaign didn’t have to try to reach out to that voter via another channel, Parscale told NPR.
That and being able to nimbly move money around from mail to phones or from TV to digital “within a couple of hours” because he only needed one layer of approval — Trump’s — Parscale could focus efforts on Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan during the last few days of the campaign, he told NPR.
In addition to these more applied uses of data, Parscale says the campaign “ran hundreds of thousands of brand-lift surveys and other types of tests” on its content marketing in order to determine whether positive or negative ads were the best fit for specific voters, he told NPR.
Which Channels Worked Best for What
Facebook was the fundraising powerhouse, Parscale told Wired for its Nov. 15 article. The social network contributed the bulk of the $250 million war chest attributed to online fundraising.
"Facebook and Twitter were the reason we won this thing," Parscale said.
The Wired article notes that Facebook gave the Trump campaign a way to test voter sentiment that traditional TV ads and channels couldn’t offer.
The numbers were astronomical.