Cambridge Analytica, the data consulting firm hired in 2016 by the Trump campaign and currently under scrutiny for its use of Facebook user data, was also used by the North Carolina Republican Party and Senator Thom Tillis in 2014, spending a total of $345,000 for Cambridge Analyica's services.
[T]he data company helped Tillis, a Republican, defeat Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan by 1.7 points. It was at the time the most expensive U.S. Senate race in history with total spending of more than $121 million.
Cambridge Analytica put a page about Tillis’ race on its website, touting its work and listing the race as a case study.
“Our telecanvassing program contacted 123,138 individuals, resulting in an increase in turnout of 12.57% among those called, which is equivalent to over 15,478 voters,” Cambridge Analytica says.
The bulk of services utilized by North Carolina Republicans involved microtargeting during campaigns.
“We were able to design and deploy messages tailored to these audiences according to their particular psychographic profiles. This was done through a telecanvassing program and a large scale direct mail campaign that demonstrably increased their likelihood of voting, and voting Republican,” Cambridge Analytica said on its site.
Tillis and Dallas Woodhouse, the NC GOP’s executive director, both said their work with Cambridge Analytica ended with the 2014 election.
Recent reports indicate that the firm acquired Facebook user data from a Cambridge University professor in violation of the platform's policies.
That professor, Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, also works at St. Petersburg State University and has received grants from Russia.
Wayne Goodwin, the chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party, is unsettled by what he's learning about Cambridge Analytica's work in his state -- especially considering the apparent Russian connection.
“Given we’re talking about foreign intervention in our national and state elections, it would seem highly reasonable for anybody to avoid using Cambridge Analytica,” he said. “There are too many unanswered questions, too much we don’t know yet.”