We deal with data, “Big” and small. But more important than the size of your dataset is the type of data it contains. Put simply, “data” is information about the world we live in, and it comes in two types: “observational” and “experimental.”
“Observational” data is static; it’s information about the things as they are, or were. For example, voters who are pro-life are also less supportive of gun control. That’s the world as it is. But it doesn’t tell us whether being pro-life causes people to be more pro-gun or whether a pro-life message will decrease support for gun control.
“Experimental” data is dynamic; it’s information about what causes things to change and how things could be. Experiments show us how specific messages or modes of contact—like telephone calls, mailers or TV ads—push or pull on voter opinion and behavior.
Experiments open our eyes to a counterfactual universe: what if every citizen watched this ad, knew that fact, or was visited at their door by a volunteer? Will it shift the vote or turn more people out to the polls? Will it work with some voters, but not others, or even cause a backlash?
We craft custom experiments to find true causal relationships. ES builds better data, not just bigger data.