Biden picks Harris: How individual-level messaging and targeting can make or break the party platform

Biden picks Harris: How individual-level messaging and targeting can make or break the party platform

Just months ago, Biden and Harris’ on-stage finger-pointing revealed fundamental policy and ideological differences between the two candidates vying for the top job. Now, with Biden’s VP choice locked in, those days are behind them, and campaigns at all levels have an opportunity to reawaken the generational and racially diverse movement that carried Barack Obama to Pennsylvania Avenue and kept him there. But how, exactly?

Just like Biden and Harris harbor differences on some of the issues, so do the diverse range of voters that identify with the Democratic Party. And the truth is, the party can’t begin to truly understand and motivate their full range of supporters with just party-line memos or static research, and criticizing the incumbent only gets a challenger so far.

For starters, Resonate has identified and analyzed the diverse Biden and Harris online voter camps, contrasting the two audiences based on key differences in values, ideology and policy priorities.

As the top of the ticket works to build a bridge of inclusiveness, campaigns at all levels also have the opportunity to understand and target different voter camps based on the niche, person-level differences that actually matter.


Finding and understanding the Biden and Harris voter camps starts with Resonate’s online voter survey (the largest and most continuous survey in the nation). In our research conducted before the Democratic Primary, we asked voters who they intended to support in the primary, and which candidate they believed was the party’s leader. If a respondent answered Kamala Harris to one of these questions, we considered that respondent as part of the “Harris online voter camp” and vice versa for Joe Biden.

We then combined these survey responses with billions of daily web events – linked to the anonymous survey respondents – leveraging machine learning to understand the actual content consumed. Machine learning technology took these responses and the behavioral data to create highly-accurate predictive models, cross-tabulated across 90% of the online U.S. electorate.

The end result: campaigns can now identify millions of voters based on these survey questions, and then learn more about them through 8,000 other individual-level insights we’ve accounted for in our surveys.

Unlike traditional polling, our models update nightly, based on daily online behavior. So while Biden and Harris share the ticket now, we can still clearly see the different Biden and Harris online voter camps today, and the fundamental reasons campaigns need to pay attention to voter-level attributes and message them differently to make real connections.

Kamala Harris’ Online Voter Camp

The Kamala Harris online voter camp is composed of roughly 19 million voters. When compared to the Biden camp, there are no significant demographic differences in the audience compositions; however, there are core differentiators across values and policy priorities.

The Harris camp is primarily motivated by living a life full of excitement, novelties and challenges. As we’ll see, this is quite different than what drives the Biden camp.

On the issues, the Harris camp is concerned about job creation. They are 22% more likely than Biden camp voters to support a candidate based on their jobs plan. These voters believe free trade deals are a top threat to U.S. jobs and they’re 48% more likely than the Biden group to say these agreements hurt the country. The trade insights are telling, considering Harris opposed two major trade deals in the Senate that Biden supported (USMCA and TPP).

Campaign tip: understand the policy issues that matter most to the individual voters who identify with your party – and why – then message accordingly

Another issue to watch is marijuana legalization. The Harris camp paces the Biden camp significantly on this issue and is 20% more likely to support recreational legalization. Will Harris get Biden over the line on this issue as part of their criminal justice reform platform?

A testament to Harris’ background as California’s top prosecutor, the Harris voter camp is 17% more likely than the Biden camp to care about a candidate’s law enforcement and crime plan.

Joe Biden’s Online Voter Camp

The larger Biden online voter camp, roughly 61 million voters, cherishes values like caring for family and friends, being reliable and trustworthy, and proving their competencies and skills. These more traditional values are different from those of our Harris camp voters, who are primarily in pursuit of creativity, adventure and freedom.

Campaign tip: Party platforms are broad. Voters of the same party are still driven by different everyday values and priorities. Use the data to help understand these differences and make genuine connections with the right messaging

On the issues, when compared to the Harris camp, the Biden camp is 19% more likely to believe that police mistreatment of African Americans is a top election issue. This is obviously an area that in the majority, both camps agree on, but the data show there is more attention to the issue on the Biden side.

The environment remains a top issue that campaigns should be focused on. Harris outright endorsed the Green New Deal during the primaries, but Biden wasn’t all the way there. However, about a month ago, Biden came out with his own plan that is said to be a Green New Deal in all but name.

Our data shows the Biden rebrand was a good idea. Based on the Biden camp’s online behavior, this is an audience with a more blanched approach to climate policy. Consider that Biden camp voters are 81% more likely than the Harris Camp to believe that climate change is caused by human activities, but also natural changes.

Audiences available for immediate targeting

A unified front is a must for any party, but so is nuanced messaging and targeting for any competitive campaign. This is how party platforms are broadened and by consequence, votes are multiplied.

Resonate is here to help campaigns immediately identify and understand the different voter segments they need to motivate, with a message worthy of their vote. Request a demo or contact us or by phone at 855-855-4320.

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