The 2022 political campaign season is off and running. In this article, we’ll explore OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) resources for political campaigns. Whether you’re doing opposition research, looking for problematic stuff for your own campaign in order to build a strategy to address any potential surprises, or to see how your constituents are responding to messaging from all parties, these resources will help your camp with these efforts.
From your local newspaper to national news outlets, you can learn about causes, organizations, and groups your opponent supports or aligns with. You’ll see people in their orbit who are their most staunch supporters. By having this information on hand your campaign has the ability to start relationship mapping, which may reveal interesting opportunities to explore.
Some tools to help
Google Alerts [Link]: Set up keywords you want Google to monitor and send it to your email address or RSS feed.
Maltego [Link]: This link analysis tool has been around for over a decade and continues to evolve. They have both paid versions or, for those campaigns with a limited budget, a community edition which is free, but with limitations. You can also go the low tech way and map things out on a whiteboard or cork board.
Seeing who is contributing to your opponent gives your campaign even more opportunities for finding who is in your opponent’s orbit. On the other side of the coin, who is in your candidate’s orbit. This allows you to address any potential issues on your side and perhaps tailor your messaging to attract your opposition’s followers.
Some tools to help
followthemoney.org [Link]: This site has a wealth of data to explore. A couple points of interest when looking at a candidate are the “Top Donors” and “Top Industries” sections.
OpenSecrets [Link]: Similar to followthemoney.org, but with more of a focus on national public office holders, dark money, lobbying, and news.
Blockchain.com [Link]: A resource like blockchain.com’s explorer allows you to view Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash transactions. In the 2020 election cycle candidates jumped on the cryptocurrency bandwagon and began accepting donations. If you know the candidate’s crypto address, you can use sites like blockchain.com, or similar, to see transactions from their wallet. Maltego, which we mentioned above, also has transforms (think of them as plugins) for cryptocurrency analysis.
With social media, we’re venturing into SOCMINT (Social Media Intelligence) territory. From social networks, to online forums, to blogs, there’s a vast amount places to explore. What your constituents publish to social media platforms will inform you of how they feel about various issues, how they feel about your candidate, and your opposition. If your candidate and opponent are active on social media, what they share is also of value.
Some tools to help
Regardless of platform, use their search functions to manually look for stuff. Whether it’s about the candidate you’re working with, the opposition, or see what constituents are talking about. Plan out keywords to search and also include hashtags. Also, check out our article on Reddit for some inspiration, which you can read here.
Google Social Search [Link]: This custom search engine allows you to search Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. This gives you a surface level look of these social media platforms based on the search results.
What we’ve presented in this article is far from an exhaustive list of resources and tools to aid you in your campaign’s research.
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