Data and Causal Inference in Political Campaigns

For our February event, we're thrilled to have political scientist and political consultant Aaron Strauss, PhD, talk about two things that people in this town absolutely love. One of those things is political campaigns. The other thing is using data to estimate causal effects in subgroups of controlled experiments! Aaron will talk about how his experiences in high-stakes political campaigns apply to anyone designing real-world experiments where different groups may respond differently to different treatments. Probably with funny anecdotes.


6:30pm -- Networking, Empenadas, and Refreshments

7:00pm -- Introduction

7:15pm -- Presentations and discussion

8:30pm -- Adjourn for Data Drinks (Tonic)


Understand how political campaigns use data and causal inference beyond the media narrative. Explore the theory of electioneering with data, as well as how campaigns have advantages and disadvantages compared to their business counterparts. Delve into the details of heterogeneous treatment effects -- i.e., how to identify the voters most responsive to campaign contacts. Have the chance to ask big questions such as "Do any of these techniques make a difference on Election Day" and "Are campaigns invading my privacy?"


Aaron Strauss is a freelance political data consultant who has been involved in three of the past four Democratic presidential campaigns and earned a PhD in political science from Princeton. As a practitioner, Aaron developed the first Google Maps overlay for political canvassers and helped introduce heterogeneous treatment effects into the Democratic campaign circles. As an academic, Aaron co-authored the first experiment to demonstrate the impact of text messages on voter turnout.


This event is sponsored by, and Elder Research.

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  • Harlan H.

    All, Tommy Jones wrote a commentary and review of this event here: and he links to the slides, which are here: (Sorry for delay in posting post of these!)

    March 30, 2014

  • Q

    Wasn't able to make due to late work. Please make whatever you can available for download.

    February 25, 2014

    • Nick

      Was this ever made available for download?

      March 24, 2014

    • Q

      No, it's not in the "More"-"F­iles" section of the site.

      March 24, 2014

  • Timothy H.

    Details for Political Technology Meetup Tomorrow Night On Big Data

    A number of you asked at the after party last night for the details.

    TOPIC - "What The Hell Is Big Data Anyway?"

    Location - Washington Court Hotel
    525 New Jersey Ave NW, Washington, DC (2 blocks from Union Station Metro)

    RSVP Page -

    Description - In the aftermath of the 2012 cycle ‘big data’ was the buzzword on everyone’s lips and every vendor’s slideware. But as we get ready for 2014 how many of us know what it really means, what it doesn’t mean and how/if we should be putting it to use in November?

    Is big data all about the three V’s (Volume, Velocity & Variability)? Can big data be relational or does it need to live in NoSQL (and what exactly is ‘NoSQL’ is another question we should throw in there). Or has big data just become a marketing buzzword people are using to describe yesterday’s data heroes like data warehousing and business intelligence?

    February 26, 2014

  • David Y.

    In the early announcements someone mentioned a Political Technology meeting on Thursday, but was somewhat vague about the details. Does anyone know where I could get more information about that?


    February 26, 2014

  • Greg T.

    41% of the people here tonight have worked on or volunteered for a political campaign

    3 · February 25, 2014

  • Harlan H.

    If anyone would like to help us advertise this event, I've created a poster, here: Please put on appropriate office doors, cork boards, etc! Thank you!

    1 · February 20, 2014

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