Over the past few weeks, I’ve been struck several times by the growing sophistication of down-ballot campaigns when it comes to online campaigning. I recently got a demo from NGP VAN of their tools for managing email and online fundraising for congressional, state legislative and other candidates. As we went along, I kept hearing that their clients were demanding advanced options that used to be the preserve of presidential and other national-level campaigns.

For instance, NGP VAN tools now have built-in options for A/B/C, etc. testing of emails, allowing campaigns to try subject lines and other variables on sub-sets of their main email lists, and then easily pick the “winning” version and send it to the rest of their supporters.

Another requested feature: the ability for campaigns to customize their data model to match their needs, particularly for fundraising-related data mining. The takeaway: Down-ballot campaigners are really using data, and they want advanced options for tracking and using information about voters, supporters and donors.