The Analyst Institute works with left-of-center organizations and campaigns across the U.S. to help them measure the impact of their programs and increase their reach. The Institute has run experimental tests for hundreds of such groups.
Michael Pordhorzer, longtime political director of the AFL-CIO, began inviting other progressive analysts to that union group’s headquarters to share and discuss their research following President George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004. The attendees grew to a few dozen within a couple of years, and he eventually established the official organization in 2007.
Analyst Institute serves as a clearinghouse for evidence on voter contact and engagement programs, interpreting that data in order to make recommendation to the progressive community. “These research collaborations can then inform future efforts across the progressive movement, giving our side a competitive advantage,” the group says on its website.
Information derived from these efforts is not widely distributed. The New York Times Magazine noted the research collected is shared only among the groups that work with Analyst Institute.
In 2014, the institute worked with Vote.org founder Debra Cleaver to study whether text messages could be used to pressure participants to vote, finding that the method increased turnout slightly. Vote.org used the data to mass text millions of potential voters prior to the 2016 presidential election.
In 2015, Analyst Institute worked with the Democratic-aligned House of Representatives Super PAC, House Majority PAC, to determine the effectiveness of attack ads on a tight congressional race in Maine between incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and his Democratic challenger, former Maine state House Minority Leader Emily Cain. Polling numbers for the two were close inside the Bangor market before the ads aired, but Cain saw an 11-percentage point jump after the ads aired. Poliquin was, however, ultimately reelected by a nine-point margin.
Women Running for Public Office
In April 2018, the Analyst Institute joined professors and researchers from the Penn School for Arts and Sciences, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Rutgers-Camden in producing a survey concerning why women run, or do not run, for public office. The study concluded that financial concerns as well “psychological barriers,” such as “fears of running [for office] and loss of privacy. . . depressed women’s ambition[s].” 
In 2014, Analyst Institute partnered with progressive Super PAC Patriot Majority to test whether television and digital advertisements could increase turnout among minorities and younger women. They found a slight bump – about 3 to 4 percent – among most groups who saw the advertisements.
Aaron Strauss serves as executive director. Prior to joining Analyst Institute, he consulted for such groups as the AFL-CIO, Catalist, and Google. In 2012, Strauss worked as the targeting and data director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Also see Michael Podhorzer
Prior to founding the Analyst Institute, Michael Podhorzer designed the AFL-CIO’s “swing voter program,” which combined analysis of voter databases with clinical trial-style messaging in various marketing efforts: email, telemarketing, direct mail and old-fashioned neighborhood canvassing. He serves on the board of managers for Catalist, a progressive data analytics firm with ties to labor unions and Democratic candidates.
The AFL-CIO provided Analyst Institute with $33,136 of in-kind assistance in 2014 through office space at its headquarters. Other groups give various amounts. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee contributed $22,000 for consultant fees in 2014. Planned Parenthood Action Fund gave the institute about $30,000 in contributions in 2016. Women Vote! gave $5,500 to the institute in 2016.