Year in Review: A Note from Our CEO

While we speed into 2022, I’m reflecting on two realities: the enormity of the task ahead to heal our divisions and secure America, and the groundwork laid this year to strengthen our democracy and solve some of our country’s toughest modern challenges. Though the days are short and the road to change is long, we remain ever-more committed to the cause of uniting Americans across differences to drive meaningful change.

In collaboration with a growing ecosystem of partners, we made tremendous progress this year on the Citizen Data platform, powering effective strategies and messaging, organizing, and coalition-building efforts with our data and insights across dozens of partner organizations.

A few highlights:

Trust in Elections

Restoring trust in the process of free and fair elections remains paramount to a healthy democracy. Immediately in the wake of January 6, we set a marker by looking at trust in elections and finding that only half of Americans trusted the 2020 election at that point.

Since then, we’ve continued to track the rise of QAnon to better understand its impact on movements to sabotage fair elections and other ingredients for a stable, democratic society. One key note from our analysis: though only 11% of the Right reports having a “favorable” view of the QAnon movement itself, Q-related beliefs are much more prevalent.

Number of QAnon Beliefs Rated as True by Explicit QAnon Impression

American Right Democracy Roadmap

We’ve recognized that major opportunities exist to both better understand today’s conservative movement and identify opportunities to reach and move pragmatic voters on the center-right. In two phases, we released a comprehensive audience roadmap and analysis of the modern American Right, examining right-of-center attitudes towards authoritarianism, QAnon, voting & elections, COVID-19, climate change, and more.

As a result of this effort, we’ve identified three distinct segments: a democracy-friendly mobilization group that values liberal democratic ideals, a semi-open group that is more ambivalent and potentially persuadable, and a threat group that is hardest to move and resistant to other views.

Citizen Data's American Right Democracy Segments

This foundational framework and dataset is the basis for various democracy efforts set to launch next year. Stay tuned for state-specific releases of this work in the coming weeks.

Electoral Reform

While democracy is dynamic and always in need of immediate action, our partners recognize that sustainable change will require focusing on the root of the problems, and investing in strategies for the long-term like reforms to our electoral system itself.

In March, Citizen released a comprehensive, voter-level landscape analysis examining support for non-partisan primaries, ranked choice-voting (RCV), and an Alaska-style combination called “final-five voting.”

In May, we released a case study on the “primary problem,” with Unite America, zooming in on CO-3 where only about 10% of eligible voters in the district decided the election of Rep. Lauren Boebert.

In June, we partnered with FairVote to pre-poll the first NYC mayoral election to use RCV. Our research precisely predicted the candidate rankings through the second to last round, only failing to account for the Kathryn Garcia/Andrew Yang alliance that formed shortly after the poll was conducted.

Citizen Data's NYC RCV Poll Results

It also powered an RCV simulation that helped the media and others better understand the process and show that voters liked the experience and found it simple to use.

Finally, we released a messaging roadmap for RCV and final five campaigns.

COVID-19

Citizen also closely studies more imminent and urgent challenges facing American democracy, including climate change, criminal justice reform, and this past year, the ongoing pandemic.

We partnered with COVID Collaborative this fall to help vaccine-hesitant Americans — rural and conservative communities in particular —  get answers to their questions about COVID-19 vaccines. Using a proprietary concern index to target high-priority counties and states, we identified and helped manage efforts on the ground to increase vaccination rates in Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Florida, and Minnesota, in addition to developing targeted digital outreach support.

Data Innovation

Citizen has made great strides in building a fully automated, machine learning data infrastructure this year to ensure both institutional knowledge retention and continuous learning.

Internally, we’ve stood up the Citizen Engine for Data Automation and Reconciliation, which we lovingly call CEDAR. Under CEDAR in 2021, we developed a dynamic cloud storage infrastructure that houses over 200 million voter records and characteristics (including models built by Citizen). That framework makes insights actionable for Citizen partners, and archives data in real time so that we never have to worry about a technical catastrophe. Additionally, we’ve built a system by which our voter database updates itself with all incoming data flows, ensuring that our data is always as fresh as possible.

CEDAR has laid the groundwork for an explosion of data-driven productivity in 2022. Based on an analysis of historical trends, our team predicts 2022 will contain high volumes of accurate, industry-disrupting insights — all accessible to and leverageable by Citizen partners.

Connection & Community

One of the unifying beliefs among Americans is that we’re too divided, and studies show this lack of community gives rise to polarization. This past year, we invested with several partners in strategies to foster more empathy in America, and listen, support, and facilitate deeper connections with others and with those who represent us.

We’ll have more to report in the New Year, but work is underway on this front with Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement and Starts With Us.

Our Growing Team

Finally, Citizen is scaling fast! We welcomed Courtney Cavaiola, Community Manager; RJ DeMello, Director of Digital Content; and Yang Wu, Jr. Data Scientist, this past quarter. We’ll have a handful of new team members join us in January 2022, so be on the lookout soon for important announcements across product, data science, and marketing.

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The latest wave of the pandemic proves that serious work remains to unite our country around data-driven solutions to the most urgent challenges facing our democracy — and we’re up for the challenge. We wish you a safe and wonderful holiday season with your friends and family and look forward to continuing the journey to a healthier democracy and a healthier world alongside you in the new year.

With gratitude,

Mindy Finn
CEO, Citizen Data