Here are TEN rules that you should abide by when doing [political] campaign data work [Rob edition]:
Collect the right data- The team members collecting data on behalf of a campaign are often volunteers, not data scientists. They need to be trained on how to collect data when speaking with voters. I've spent many campaigns speaking ad nauseam about the importance of asking the key question: "Can candidate x count on your vote" but even the answer to that question is academic if you do not have the ability to put that information to use— this is Applied Data Services after all. Collecting the correct personal identification and contact information is the most valuable data a person can give you.
Plan a winning voter coalition- Data can provide insights into how your stakeholders i.e. potential voters, think about issues and if those views have any impact on a person's likelihood to vote and who they vote for. Collecting and analysing this information is a critical step in building a persuasive campaign narrative. [At the provincial and federal level, political parties will contract with a market research firm to help them develop a central platform and messages for all affiliated candidates to run on]
Campaigns are meant to win and to win, you need votes- Don't lose the [random] forest through the [decision] trees. Putting aside my sad attempt at a machine learning dad joke, campaigns often get too far in the weeds on an issue or task and lose sight of the mission. If you can't clearly articulate how something either grows your supporter coalition (gets you more votes) or prevents you from shrinking your supporter coalition (loses you votes), then its not worth the effort.
Keep it simple stupid- A well known principle used in various disciplines, and extremely important in campaigns both in message development/delivery and in data sharing. The candidate should stay focused on doing what candidates do best, identifying votes and the managers and other key decision-makers time may be one of the most valuable resources the campaign has. No one else should be made to read through complicated spreadsheets or to see the beautiful code you spent hours making, instead, use simple visualization techniques, bottom-line numbers and clearly state the results of your analysis and any recommendations when providing updates to your team.
Big campaigns win elections- In Matt's post, he advised that "clean, stored, secure and relevant data will always lose to the incumbent with a well-stocked address book." Matt is a wise man. Every aspect of the campaign is made easier and more likely to succeed with more people. Candidates who think they can lone wolf their way to victory are playing high-risk roulette with their election. Initially, candidates are their own best database from having spent their entire lives building relationships. If they want to win, they can't be afraid to ask their network for support, be it for volunteering, a donation or their vote.