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The Reality of Data-Driven Campaigning

The Reality of Data-Driven Campaigning

Professor Kate Dommett on how data is actually being used in politics and how it isn't as bad as public narratives would make it out to be

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Kate Dommett. We don’t have a screenshot of the both of us talking because Riverside wasn’t working for her, and we had to switch to Zoom! However, a lot of these summary and show notes were generated via a new AI tool by

Kate Dommett, a professor of digital politics, discusses her book “Data-Driven Campaigning and Political Parties” and her research on how political parties use data in election campaigns. She explores the prevailing narratives around data-driven campaigning ** cough, Cambridge Analytica** and how they often do not match reality. Dommett also discusses the role of regulation in data-driven campaigning and the potential threats to democracy. She emphasizes the need for a nuanced understanding of data use in campaigns and the importance of considering the regulatory environment and data security.


  1. Data-driven campaigning is not a new phenomenon, but the use of digital technology has disrupted traditional accountability systems.

  2. The regulatory environment and electoral systems vary across countries, leading to different practices in data-driven campaigning.

  3. Campaigns use data for targeting, mobilization, and message development, but the level of sophistication varies.

  4. The role of online platforms in data-driven campaigning raises questions about access, responsibility, and unintended consequences.

  5. Data security is a significant concern in data-driven campaigning, especially for smaller parties with limited resources.

  6. Academic research should draw on historical lessons and theory to provide a responsible and nuanced understanding of the impact of new technologies, such as AI, on elections.


  1. Introduction and Background

  2. Types of Data and Decision-Making

  3. Role of Online Platforms in Data-Driven Campaigning

  4. Concerns and Challenges in Data-Driven Campaigning

  5. Responsible Research on New Technologies in Elections


  1. Katharine Dommett, Glenn Kefford, and Simon Kruschinski, Data-Driven Campaigning and Political Parties

  2. Amy Orben, The Sisyphean Cycle of Technology Panics

  3. Fabio Votta at al.  Who Does(n't) Target You? Mapping the Worldwide Usage of Online Political Microtargeting 

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Anchor Change with Katie Harbath
Impossible Tradeoffs with Katie Harbath
Technology and democracy are at a crossroads. Technology can potentially empower people and make our democracies more responsive. Or technology can be used to manipulate and divide us. Welcome to Impossible Tradeoffs. I’m Katie Harbath. In this weekly podcast, we’ll talk about and analyze the most fascinating headlines. We’ll make predictions about where things are going. And we’ll talk to experts about the challenges we face and how we might look for solutions.