How Artificial Intelligence Swayed The Midterm Elections – And Will Become A Permanent Feature Of Democracy
Artificial Intelligence helped give Democrats a fundraising edge this election season, allowing the blue party to retain control of the Senate and blunt a Republican takeover of the House.
While there were many other factors at play, the Democrats relied more heavily on AI in finding donors, according to professional fundraisers, bringing in more money from individual, small-dollar donors than their Republican rivals.
“AI will play an increasingly important role in democracy going forward,” said Martin Kurucz, who runs Sterling Data Company, a Democratic data technology company in the fundraising space.
Data analytics have been used in political fundraising for more than a decade, and bots – automated systems that post on social media – have long spread political messages on a large scale. But using AI to identify donors and maximize outreach efforts is relatively new.
On the left side of the aisle, fundraisers are using artificial intelligence to predict who’s likely to donate to their cause, while on the Republican side, fundraisers are using artificial intelligence to maximize the efficiency of outreach to established lists of donors. While the Republican approach may raise more dollars per donor, they have fewer donors to raise from.
Consider John Fetterman, the Democrat who won a senate seat in Pennsylvania against Republican Mehmet Oz. According to the Federal Election Commission, Fetterman raised more than $55 million in 2022 compared with just over $15 million by Mehmet Oz. More than half of Fetterman’s haul came from individual donors giving $200 or less, while only about a third of Oz’s contributions were from such small-dollar donors.
Mr. Fetterman, whose campaign used AI, was not alone. Most statewide Democrats outraised their GOP counterparts by large multiples in the small-dollar space.
Federal Elections Commission data from the 2022 election cycle show that Democratic donor organizations such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, spent around $8.4 million on digital acquisition, while raising $85.6 million from unitemized small dollar contributions – about ten times what they spent. At the same time, Republican organizations such as the National Republican Congressional Committee spent around $32 million on digital acquisition and raised less than double that amount in unitemized small dollar contributions.