Common FAQs

General

Voter Targeting

Counts Reports

Ordering & Paying


“How do I get started?”
If this is your first time working with Political Data or on a campaign, we strongly recommend viewing the Getting Started Guide on our home page. For those of you who want to go directly to voter count reports, you can go to our Online counts reports page, or request a set of custom counts for us to process. The Online counts report will include vote history from statewide elections only, while counts that you request us to process will include high propensity universes using all local, statewide, and special election history specific to your district.

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“What format do PDI files and lists come in?”
Files – PDI files are normally available in the following formats: DBF (Dbase), CSV, TSV, TXT, ASCII text, and PDF. All of our files are sent in a DBF (Dbase) format unless we are instructed otherwise. For more information about DBF and other file formats, please read “How is my data received?”, or visit our Glossary.

Lists – Our walk, phone and alpha lists are available in printed and PDF format. Our standard lists are printed landscape on 8.5 x 11 paper. We charge $.02 per page to print a list. We charge a flat rate of $10 to provide a list as a PDF.
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“Can I get labels/mail file data by households?”
Our mail files and printed labels are always grouped by Non-Traditional household unless you specifically request them to be grouped by voter, or Traditional household. This means that when multiple people live at the same address, your campaign will only send them one piece of mail including the names of all of the voters you selected. Householding mail files and printed labels significantly reduces the number of mail pieces required to reach your target voter universe. The benefits are both financially and environmentally rewarding.
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“What is the difference between a Traditional Household vs. a Non-Traditional Household?”
There are different ways to consolidate, or group, voters into households for mailing purposes. Political Data offers two different methods for grouping voters by households. We refer to these groupings as Traditional and Non-Traditional. It is important to note that no matter which type of household grouping you prefer, every voter in your target universe will receive a piece of mail. In fact, if a household has only one last name, the mail count and grouping will be identical in both methods.

A Non-Traditional Household includes all voters at the same address regardless of last name. Non-Traditional Householding is the recommended household type for mailing purposes, because it usually produces one piece of mail per address. A Traditional Household includes all voters at the same address with the exact same last name. Traditional households are only recommended for very personalized letters as this method may produce multiple pieces of mail per a single address to reflect multiple last names.

Because many individuals living at the same address do not share the same last name, you can reduce the number of pieces of mail you send by using a Non-Traditional Household type for mailing lists and labels. For example, if Robert Marley is married to and is registered at the same address as his wife Alvarita Anderson-Marley, both voters full names will be on the same label using the Non-Traditional Household type. However, using the Traditional Household type will result in Robert Marley being on one label and Alvarita Anderson-Marley being on another label, because they do not share the exact same last name. Below are samples of our household types.

 

Household Sample 1 – Joe Higgs
Traditional Household Non-Traditional Household
Mail Piece 1 Joe Higgs Joe Higgs
Household Sample 2 – Joe Higgs & Angela Barrett
Traditional Household Non-Traditional Household
Mail Piece 1 Joe Higgs Joe Higgs, and Angela Barrett
Mail Piece 2 Angela Barrett Not necessary
Household Sample 3 – Joe Higgs, Sylvia Higgs & Angela Barrett
Traditional Household Non-Traditional Household
Mail Piece 1 Joe & Sylvia Higgs Joe & Sylvia Higgs, and Angela Barrett
Mail Piece 2 Angela Barrett Not necessary

Institutional addresses, such as dormatories and convalescent homes, would not be considered Non-Traditional Households and default to a Traditional household sort.
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“Can Political Data Postal Qualify my mail files?”
No, due to changes made by the US Postal Service, we no longer are able pre-sort mailing data files or offer carrier route sorted labels. If you’re using a bulk permit to send out a mailer yourself using our mailing data, we recommend that you pay a mailing service (mailing house) to handle any pre-sorted bulk rate mailings you may have planned. Please read more about this on our Processing Your Own Mail page.
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“Where can I find the descriptions for the various codes PDI uses?”
You can find a list describing PDI codes on our Support Center page.
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“How is my data received?”
These days, the vast majority of our products are sent in an electronic form. Our walk and phone lists are primarly as a pdf. The advantage with electronic files is the ease and speed in which they can be delivered. We simply send the data to your email account. When possible, we will send the data as an attachment (smaller files under 5 megabytes). When data files are too large to be sent as an attachment, we send an email that contains a link to a ftp site, from which you can download the file.

Almost every file received from Political Data will be compressed as a zip file. We do this to minimize download time and provide a safe, simple, and reliable method for transferring data electronically. Multiple files can be contained in a single zip file so do not be concerned if you order three separate files and only receive one zip file.

Once you unzip a file from Political Data, the file will most likely have an extension (end with) of “.dbf”, “.txt”, “.tsv”, “.csv” or “.pdf”. These letters indicate a specific format in which the data is organized and built. To many computer users, these formats may be unfamiliar. They are, however, far and away the most universally acknowledged and accepted data formats and can be opened in almost every commercially available software program.
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“How do I open my data in Excel?”
We are frequently asked if our files can be opened in Microsoft Excel and why we do not provide data as an .xls Excel file. Excel is not considered to be a good format for transferring large data files and frequently modifies the file contents without the users knowledge. The three main problems with using the Excel file format is the 65,536 file record limit on older verions of Excel, the general field property (that tries to convert text fields into numeric fields), and the version incompatibility (newer versions are not compatible with older versions). The bottom line is that the Microsoft Excel is great for many things, but holding and transfering large data files is not one of them.

Fortunately, Excel can open virtually any type of file format by indicating a file type in the normal file opening process.

For example, if you recieved a file in a .dbf format and wish to open it with Excel do the following:

When you get the file, simply save the file to your computer, then open Excel and choose ‘Open’. In the Open window go to the ‘Files of type:’ box (at the bottom just below the ‘File name:’ box) you should choose “dBase files” (or any version of a dbf or dBase file).


You may also just choose to just double click on the dbf file we send you. Your windows program should ask you what program you want to open this type of file with, choose Excel. If you check the box ‘always open with’, you can simply double click on all future dbf files and they will automatically open with Excel. Again, beware of the records limit of your version of Excel. Older versions of Excel can only handle files containing up to 65,536 records. Any records exceeding this amount will be deleted.
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“How current is PDI data?”
Having current data is vital to the success of a campaign. Using old data can result in excluding 15%-20% of the voters in your district. Political Data prides itself on maintaining the most up to date voter file available. On average, our files are updated every 45-70 days. During an election season, our voter files are updated roughly every 30 days or less.
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“Does PDI have local and special election vote history?”
Yes! Political Data has vote history for almost every local and special election in California.
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“How do I purchase a full raw data voter file?”
If you wish to purchase voter data in a format not included in our list of standard products. Please contact one of our account representatives directly. We only sell our full Standard and Relational voter file under certain conditions. The price and availablity of these files will be based on a number of factors including but not limited to; the overall campaign plan, intended use of the file, the size of the district/area requested, and any requested enhancements (ethnic coding, assessor match, appended phone numbers, mobile homes, etc.,).
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“What is a high propensity voter?”
The term “high propensity voter” is a buzz word that is thrown around by people who have worked on political campaigns. It is often misused and misunderstood. Simply put, a high propensity voter is a voter who, based on past turnout, is more likely to vote in a given type of election. Thus a voter who never misses a local or state election would have a greater propensity to vote in all elections. A voter who votes only in statewide primary and general elections would have a high propensity to vote in statewide elections, but may not vote in a local elections. A voter who votes only in general elections would only be considered a high propensity voter in a general election.

The term “high propensity” is very subjective and dependent on available vote history that reflects future election characteristics. We don’t believe that giving you one or two choices or defining voters with labels such as “A+” voters is in your interest. We offer many different propensity universes to suit a wide range of election types. We encourage our clients to create their own universes, if our universes are not adequate.
Click here for a list of our current standard propensity universe options.
Click here to request a set of custom counts, including our standard high propensity universes

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“Why target high propensity?”
The primary reason to reach out to high propensity voters is to get the most out of your time and your money. In an ideal situation you would have enough money and time to communicate with all the registered voters in your city or district. With this rarely being the case, you need to limit your universe to those you feel are likely to vote and to a number you can afford to reach. It makes no sense to pick a mailing universe of 20,000 houses when your budget can only handle 10,000, or to order 10,000 phone numbers when you can only make 2,000 calls. You should use one of our count reports to mold a campaign around your resources.
Click here for a list of our current standard propensity universe options.
Click here to request a set of custom counts, including our standard high propensity universes

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“How can I identify the best high propensity voters in my area?”
Because all campaigns have differences in funding, personnel and strategic objectives, there is no universal formula that defines the “best” high propensity voter. Instead, we offer a variety of options that represent small, medium, and large universes. We begin by looking at the most recent and similar election vote history available as an indicator what voters are most likely to vote again. You should consider both what you expect the projected turnout to be in your election and how many voters do you need to contact to be successful, keeping in mind that not every voter you contact will actually vote nor will they all support your campaign. So, you should always strive to target as many likely voters as possible, while also considering the means and needs of your campaign. If you have trouble selecting a universe or need help creating a custom universe for the unique nature of your campaign, please do not hesitate to contact a PDI consultant for assistance. You may also consider reading “How to read the PDI counts report” below.
Click here for a list of our current standard propensity universe options.
Click here to request a set of custom counts including our standard high propensity universes

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“How do I read a Political Data counts report?”
The Political Data counts report usually consists of two parts: the counts report and the universe options description page.
Counts Report – Each item, or select, on a counts report is typically represented by three separate counts – The voter count, the Traditional household count and the Non-Traditional houseshold count. The first count represents the number of voters in the select, the second count represents the number of Traditional houses in the select, and the third count represents the number of Non-traditional houses in the select. Each counts report includes a variety of demographic selects available to you. These are the most commonly requested demographic variables. Feel free to inquire about other demographic and geographic variables not included on our standard report. Notice that these selects are not exclusive, thus a voter who is female and a registered Democrat, has a listed phone, a Spanish surname, is 35-44 years of age and has voted absentee at least twice will be counted at least six times. Do not add them up to create a select, you will probably end up counting the same voter more than once. If you want to count something like, Republican and male and age over 54 and Spanish surname, we’ll be happy to count it for you. Also pay attention to the BASE: and PAGE: at the top of the page, which will indicate exactly what voters are being counted on each page.


Example 1 – Counts Report page counting TOTAL registered voters.


Example2 – Counts Report page counting DEM voters only.

The universe options description page gives an actual definition of the elections used to create the universe. It is important to read carefully what each description means. Pay close attention to parentheses and to the words “and” and “or”. If you want to select voters who voted in at least one of the last two elections, you would say voted in “6-06 or 11-06”. If you wanted voters who voted in both of the last two elections, you would say “6-06 and 11-06”. If you wanted voters who have local election history or are likely statewide primary election voters you could say (Voted in 3-05 or 3-07) or (Voted in at least 4 of 3-04, 11-04, 11-05, 6-06 or 11-06).
Many times a description will read something like this: “Voted in at least two of 3-02, 10-03, 3-04, 11-05, and also voted in 6-06 or 11-06”. In this case, we have used the most recent statewide election as a filter to screen out voters who failed to vote in the most recent large turnout elections. It does not mean we are selecting every voter in 6-06 or 11-06. By using this most recent activity we are able to eliminate voters who have probably moved or died.
Click here for a list of our current standard propensity universe options.

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“What is included on a standard PDI counts report?”
A PDI counts report includes a variety of high-propensity universes and numerous demographic variables. For information on high-propensity universes see “How do I read Political Data count sheets?” or go to our standard high propensity universe options page. For information on the demographic variables included on our counts, continue reading.
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“What do all of the demographic rows mean?”
To determine the count of a demographic variable, find the point where the demographic row intersects the cross-tabulated page or column you wish to use. Some of the row descriptions might need a little clarification.

    Standard Count Report Fields and descriptions:

  • TOTAL: Total Voters as described in the Select and Page Descriptors
  • DEM: Democrats
  • DEMPLUS: Democrats, voters who were previously registered Democrat and not currently registered Republican, as well as voters who have donated to Democrats/Democratic Committees and are not registered Republican, plus any voter requested a Democratic ballot in a prior primary election cycle.
  • REP: Republicans
  • REPPLUS: Republicans, voters who were previously registered Republican and not currently registered Democrat, as well as voters who have donated to Republicans / Republican Committees and are not registered Democrat, plus any voter requested a Republican ballot in a prior primary election cycle.
  • OTHER (NOT DEM OR REP): Any voter registered with a party other than Democrat or Republican
  • IND (NON-PARTISAN): Decline to State, American Independent, or Miscellaneous Party
  • MPL (MINOR PARTY LIBERAL): Green, Natural Law, or Peace and Freedom Party
  • MPC (MINOR PARTY CONSERVATIVE): Libertarian or Reform Party
  • GREEN: Green Party
  • PEACE & FREEDOM: Peace and Freedom Party
  • NATURAL LAW: Natural Law Party
  • LIBERTARIAN: Libertarian Party
  • REFORM: Reform Party
  • DECLINE TO STATE: Registered Decline to State/No Party Preference
  • AMERICAN IND.: American Independent Party
  • MISC.: All Parties not listed individually above
  • PURE DEM: household contains ONLY Democrats
  • PURE REP: household contains ONLY Republicans
  • DEM DONOR ($$): gave money to a Democrat Candidate or Committee; via CASOS and FEC filing records (includes only select local records, inquire for local record availability)
  • REP DONOR ($$): gave money to a Republican Candidate or Committee; via CASOS and FEC filing records (includes only select local records, inquire for local record availability)
  • WASDEM: previously registered as a Democrat
  • WASREP: previously registered as a Republican
  • DEM BALLOT (PAST PRIMARY): Any voter who has requested a Democratic ballot in a prior primary election cycle
  • REP BALLOT (PAST PRIMARY) : Any voter who has requested a Republican ballot in a prior primary election cycle
  • PERMAMENT ABSENTEE (PAV): Registered Permanent Absentee Voter, also known as Permanent Vote By Mail or PVBM
  • ANY EARLY PAV: Returned absentee ballot 9 or more days prior to election day
  • PAV & NOT ALWAYS LATE: Permanent Absentee Voter whose ballot returns are NOT ALWAYS in the last 9 days before election day
  • 1+AVs OR PAV: PAV or anyone who has voted by mail ballot at least once in last four years.
  • 2+AVs OR PAV: PAV or anyone who has voted by mail ballot at least twice in last four years.
  • 3+AVs OR PAV: PAV or anyone who has voted by mail ballot at least three times in last four years.
  • EXCLUDING ANY PAV: Non-PAV voters
  • 1+AV, EXCLUDING ANY PAV: non-PAV voters who have voted by mail ballot at least once in last four years.
  • 2+AV, EXCLUDING ANY PAV: non-PAV voters who have voted by mail ballot at least twice in last four years.
  • PHONE (ALL): voters/households with at least one phone record associated
  • PHONE (HOME): voters/households associated with a LANDLINE phone number; this count is useful for estimating robocalls
  • PHONE (MOBILE): voters associated with mobile phone numbers
  • EMAILS (ALL): voters with at least one email address associated
  • REGISTRAR EMAILS: voters with registrar-provided email addresses
  • ENHANCED EMAILS ($$): voters with commercially acquired email addresses (high cost per unit associated, please contact us for a quote)
  • HOMEOWNER: tax record identified as owner of registered residential address
  • PROBABLE RENTER: formulaically identified as a likely renter of registered residential address, includes apartment addresses
  • MOBILEHOME: voters at addresses identified as being Mobile Home Parks
  • AVERAGE INCOME <$50000: voters in census blocks identified as having an average income under $50,000 per year
  • AVERAGE INCOME $50K-$100k: voters in census blocks identified as having an average income between $50,000 and $100,000 per year
  • AVERAGE INCOME >$100000: voters in census blocks identified as having an average income over $100,000 per year
  • 25%+ ATTENDED COLLEGE: voters in census blocks with 25% or more of its population identified as having attended college.
  • 50%+ ATTENDED COLLEGE: voters in census blocks with 50% or more of its population identified as having attended college.
  • FEMALE: Female Voters
  • MALE: Male Voters
  • GENDER UNKNOWN: Voters who did not indicate a gender on their registration; these are mostly older voters
  • AGE 18-24: voters between 18 and 24 years of age
  • AGE 25-34: voters between 25 and 34 years of age
  • AGE 35-44: voters between 35 and 44 years of age
  • AGE 45-54: voters between 45 and 54 years of age
  • AGE 55-64: voters between 55 and 64 years of age
  • AGE 65+ / NO AGE: voters over 65 years of age or no age indicated on registration; no age indicated indicates an older registration record, before birthdate was a required field.
  • FOREIGN BORN: voter born outside of the U.S.
  • U.S. BORN: voter born inside of the U.S.
  • BIRTHPLACE UNKNOWN: Voter with no/unknown birthplace listed on registration
  • AFRICAN-AMERICAN: formulaically determined likely African American voter
  • LATINO: Latino voter, based on surname and other data fields
  • CHINESE SPKR: probable Chinese speaker, based on surname and birthplace in Chinese speaking country or registered with state to receive a ballot in Chinese
  • KOREAN SPKR: probable Korean speaker, based on surname and birthplace of Korea or registered with state to receive a ballot in Korean
  • SPANISH SPKR: probable Spanish speaker, based on surname and birthplace in Spanish speaking country or registered with state to receive a ballot in Spanish
  • TAGALOG SPKR: probable Tagalog speaker, based on surname and birthplace of the Phillipines or registered with state to receive a ballot in Tagalog
  • VIETNAMESE SPKR: probable Vietnamese speaker, based on surname and birthplace of Vietnam or registered with state to receive a ballot in Vietnamese
  • CHINESE BALLOT: registered with state to receive a Chinese language ballot
  • KOREAN BALLOT: registered with state to receive a Korean language ballot
  • SPANISH BALLOT: registered with state to receive a Spanish language ballot
  • TAGALOG BALLOT: registered with state to receive a Tagalog language ballot
  • Vietnamese BALLOT: registered with state to receive a Vietnamese language ballot
  • ARMENIAN: likely Armenian voter based on surname and other data fields
  • EAST INDIAN: likely (East) Indian voter based on surname and other data fields
  • JEWISH SURNAME: likely Jewish voter based on surname and other data fields
  • ASIAN (composite) : likely Asian voters based on surname and other data fields, includes Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, Southeast Asian or other East Asian born voters. Does not include East Indian or Polynesian voters.
  • CHINESE: likely Chinese voter based on surname and other data fields
  • FILIPINO: likely Filipino voter based on surname and other data fields
  • JAPANESE: likely Japanese voter based on surname and other data fields
  • KOREAN: likely Korean voter based on surname and other data fields
  • SOUTHEAST ASIAN: likely Southeast Asian voter based on surname and other data fields, includes Cambodian, Hmong and Thai
  • VIETNAMESE: likely Vietnamese voter based on surname and other data fields
  • CHINESE/KOREAN SURNAME: voters with surnames that are common for both Chinese and Korean and no other distinguishing data is available
  • CHINESE/VIET SURNAME: voters with surnames that are common for Chinese and Vietnamese and no other distinguishing data is available
  • CHIN/KOR/VIET SURNAME: voters with surnames that are common for Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese and no other distinguishing data is available
  • ASIAN/ANGLO SURNAME: voters with surnames that are common for both Asian and Anglo and no other distinguishing data is available
  • REG BEFORE/BETWEEN/AFTER XX-XX: Voter with registration processed Before/Between/After the indicated date(s) based on the 15 day close of registration for each election date and considering each voter’s existing election vote history to avoid including re-registrants.
  • VOTED XX-XX: Cast a ballot in the indicated election
  • AV XX-XX: Cast an absentee ballot in the indicated election
  • VOTED XX-XX & NO OTHER: voted in indicated election, but has cast no other ballots in entire known voting history
  • Voted A of B (XX-XX thru XX-XX): cast a ballot at least (A) number of times in (B) number of elections, with specific elections indicated with a “G” for Statewide General or “P” for Statewide Primary in Month/Year in parentheses.

You are not restricted by these demographic options. You can request a count of other variables or ask us to change these. You might want a count of Armenians, Chinese, voters 45+, DEM MPL and IND voters combined. Just ask, we’ll be happy to count it for you.
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“What data fields does Political Data have that are not typically on the standard count report?”
Political Data has data on homeowners, mobile home parks, birthplace, and numerous ethnic surname groups in addition to geographic areas such as precincts, zip codes, and overlapping cities, districts, and unincorporated areas. Please contact your PDI consultant for more information.
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“Can I just add up the voters/households in the categories I want to get my total count?”
In some cases this is possible, however your count may not be accurate by simply adding everyone together because individuals living in the same household have similarities and/or differences in sex, age, party affiliation, etc. Be sure to confirm your count before ordering.
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“How do I determine what products my campaign needs?”
Determining the needs of your campaign can be complicated. Each product offered by Political Data has advantages and disadvantages. PDI consultants can provide information that will help you make a well-informed decision. We recommend that you read the Getting Started Guide on our home page.

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“How do I place an order?”
All orders must be placed in writing by way of an email, fax, or our online order form. All orders must be placed in writing. You can place your order online, by email, or by fax. Orders should include billing name, address, phone number, shipping information and date the order is needed. Please include a contact name at the shipping address. We will also require a credit card to guarantee payment by check. If you have questions about your order, please contact your PDI consultant by phone or email.
Contact us
Click here to place an order online.

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“What is your turnaround time?”
Our typical in house turnaround time is 24-36 hrs for electronic files and 48-72 hrs for printed products. Custom voter file matches require at least 5 days. The busier the season gets the longer our turnaround time may become. All orders and requests are processed in the order they are received. Customers working in a current election cycle will have priorty over customers working on a later election cycle.

Be sure to include an exact due date and time (not ASAP), to give us the ability to prioritize your requests. Yes, it is often possible for us to turn work around faster than the previous mentioned times, but there are no guarantees. Also, be sure to let us know priorities within your orders.

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“How do I determine the cost of my order?”
Please use our online price calculator or contact your PDI consultant for pricing information. Prices usually are based on quantity by household. Vote history information that requires manual data gathering may cause an increase in price.
Click here to veiw our current pricing schedule.

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“How do I pay?”
Political Data accepts payment by check or credit card. Since most campaigns pay by check, we require a credit card to hold as a guarantee of payment by check. This way we can process your order in a timely manner, then send you an invoice after you have received your data. We expect to receive payment within ten business days, upon receiving an invoice. If you foresee any delays in payment, please notify us so we can plan accordingly.
Please provide credit card info by phone or fax.
Click here for a printable credit card authorization form.
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“Does PDI accept credit cards?”
Political Data accepts American Express, Visa and MasterCard. Please call our office staff or your PDI consultant for more information on paying by credit card. Since most campaigns prefer to pay by check, we require a credit card as payment for all orders.
Click here for a printable credit card authorization form.
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“Does PDI offer discounts for additional copies?”
Discount for additional copies/uses of the exact same product are the follow:
30% off of 2nd copy/use
60% off of 3rd-5th copy/use
75% off of 6th and any additional copy/use
Click here to calculate the approximate cost of your order.
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