The telephone has long been used to influence voters and raise money. With the election just days away, automated spammers are hitting overdrive, hassling voters on their phones in droves to influence them or solicit donations.
The Marchex Institute started to notice an increase in spam phone calls placed to local phone numbers this year, and we suspected that the upcoming election was one of the reasons. We have confirmed this and estimate that 1.5 billion spam calls rang up voters between April and October.
How do we know?
- We identified more than 2,100 phone numbers affiliated with a political party, presidential candidate or a campaign issue through caller IDs with names such as “STOP OBAMA” or “DEMOCRATIC PARTY” and tracked the volume of these calls to the local call tracking numbers used by Marchex for advertiser campaigns.
- Marchex blocked more than 1 million spam calls from these phone numbers, and if we assume that other local numbers received the same rate of spam calls, the total number of spam calls is well north of 1.5 billion. (Thankfully, our platform identifies these spam calls and blocks them before they reach our clients.)
- A common tactic that seems to get around laws meant to stop spam calls is to call with a “survey”, which is a thinly-veiled political message and is the furthest thing from a survey this analyst can imagine.
- Neither party comes off as squeaky clean. Overall, Democrats and Republicans appeared to be equal offenders.
- Calls were heaviest in battleground states such as North Carolina and Colorado.
Top 10 States to Receive Robo-Calls Adjusted for Population
- North Carolina
- New Jersey
- New York
If spam calls are a yardstick by which we can measure the increasing frenzy surrounding presidential campaigning, then the volume of calls reveal a lot about the tenor and intensity of our political climate.
VP, Marchex Institute