The Constitution Unit


Data-Driven campaigning: how and why do political parties do it?

Co-Badged with the UCL Policy & Practice seminar series, this event took place on 8 February 2024.

A graphic on the event.

How and why do political parties use 'big data' to help them win political campaigns? And what are the implications for democracy of the increasing sophistication with which parties can identify and target voters? In this Policy & Practice event, Professor Kate Dommett will present findings from her new book on this topic, drawing on interviews with over 300 professional campaigners in five countries (Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK and US). We will also delve into data-driven campaigning and its implications in the UK, hearing perspectives from Louise Edwards, a senior official at the UK’s Electoral Commission, and Dr Miriam Sorace, a political scientist currently working for the UK Labour Party's data & targeting team.

Meet the speakers

Prof. Kate Dommett is Professor of Digital Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Sheffield. Her research focuses on digital technology and democratic politics, with a particular focus on data use, election campaigns and regulation.  She has previously been a Special Advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on Democracy and Digital Technology and is currently a member of the DCMS College of Experts. Her new book, coauthored with Glenn Kefford, and Simon Kruschinski, is Data-Driven Campaigning and Political Parties (OUP 2024).

Dr Miriam Sorace is a Political Data Scientist in the Labour Party's Data & Targeting Team, and a Lecturer in Quantitative Politics at the University of Kent (currently on leave). She specialises in quantitative research methods, European political behaviour and public opinion, gendered political behaviour, comparative political institutions and decision-making, and the politics of Brexit.

Louise Edwards is the Electoral Commission’s Director of Regulation and Digital Transformation. Louise is responsible for maintaining the registers of political parties in the UK, as well as the Commission’s regulatory work and digital, data, technology and facilities infrastructure. This includes publishing funding and spending at elections and referendums, registering political parties and campaigners, enforcement work, and data and information management.

Chair: Prof. Alan Renwick is Professor of Democratic Politics and Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit in the UCL Department of Political Science and School of Public Policy.

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