Echelon Insights

Echelon Insights, launched in summer of 2014 by top Republican digital strategist Patrick Ruffini and pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson (also a Harvard IOP Fall 2014 Fellow), blends rigorous opinion research with digital insights and data analytics to create next-generation intelligence. From political campaigns to non-profits to corporations, Echelon works on projects and builds tools that shed new light on how audiences and voters think, act, are persuaded, and are activated.

Whether we're conducting top-notch survey research, analyzing the online conversation around a major news topic, building models that predict who is likely to vote, or offering insights about the media landscape, Echelon uses all of the tools at a researcher's disposal to answer challenging questions about identifying, persuading, and activating audiences.

We tackle questions such as:

* What factors truly make a voter persuadable?

* How can we know if advertising has made a measurable difference?

* Where are there untapped reservoirs of support on a certain issue?

* How are information consumption habits changing?

* Can you build a simulator that projects the possible impact of a particular communications strategy?

* What are the right messages that maximize support from voters or customers?

As Echelon expands its client base and capabilities, we expect to have an exciting summer 2019 ahead of us, and are thrilled to offer a summer internship through Harvard's IOP Directors Internship program.

Applicants should be deeply curious in nature and love for tackling research questions in new ways. Not all Echelon work is explicitly political or partisan in nature, though an interest in politics and public service is preferable. While not required, we prefer applicants with skills or an interest in some of these areas:

* Statistical expertise, comfort using R or other software such as SPSS or Wincross

* Data science skills, modeling, experience with Python

* Experience in political psychology or fields studying how people process information and make decisions

* Computer science and machine learning

* Opinion research and experience creating well-written analytical reports

* Graphic design and/or experience with Tableau or data visualization tools

* Strategic communications planning skills or experience in media

We expect that our Director's Intern will be heavily involved in digital intelligence projects, similar to our #ThisYearInNews work (see here:, and will also assist on public opinion research projects for our public policy clients. Above all, Echelon is looking for new team members who are insatiably curious, are constantly asking questions, and are eager to challenge assumptions about how political campaigns or corporate advertising strategies work.

2019 Intern Reflection:

My time at Echelon has been fairly busy, with a wide variety of tasks and projects covering pretty much every aspect of this small firm. As Echelon is primarily focused on social media analytics, a majority of my time has been dedicated to figuring out ways to web scrape better data from online forums. I’ve also spent time on figuring out ways to automate certain tasks at the firm, and this effort has really saved us time we would have normally spent doing such tasks on our own. A the end of the summer I was more focused on machine learning for predictive analytics in the political realm with the data that Echelon gathers from its own surveys.

Given the small size of the firm, it’s pretty easy for an intern like me to take on meaningful tasks that truly add value to the firm. Though the office is quiet throughout the day, the team has been so friendly and eager to learn about me and my interests, making my time at Echelon a very comfortable experience. That being said, a future intern with interest in data science and solid Python/R skills would also perform well at Echelon. Experience with data wrangling, web scraping, machine learning, and general programming would also be beneficial. An interest in survey design or techniques wouldn’t hurt either.

Steven Espinoza '20

2018 Intern Reflection:

Echelon Insights is a polling and data analytics firm headquartered in Alexandria, VA founded by two top Republican pollsters, Patrick Ruffini and Kristen Soltis Anderson, a former IOP Fellow. As part of my job, I help prepare the background research for Kristen’s weekly podcast, work on the backend side of the Optimizing Listening service, and am currently designing a web application to automate a message testing service for our clients. The office culture is nerdy and fun; it’s small, so it’s very close-knit. People are really invested in what they’re doing and often work late. 

In terms of preparation, I found it helpful to have taken CS 50 and CS 124 before starting at Echelon. It might also be helpful to take Ec 970 or have experience with R in addition to Python and SQL. I would highly encourage anyone with a technical background who wants to work in an environment where they are given a lot of responsibility to consider an internship here, and especially so if you can eat through the constant surplus of jalapeño chips in the office that no one except Kristen seems to like. 

Emily Shen '20

2017 Intern Reflection:

This summer, I worked at Echelon Insights on polling projects and data analysis. Both founders are both well-known Republican pollsters in the public service sector that started this relatively new company.  Because of the company’s young age and smaller staff, I was expected to fill many roles and took an active part in the day-to-day affairs.  Coming into the job with little experience in data analysis meant that the staff did not start me out on statistics heavy projects. Instead, I started off with a large amount of research and summaries of available public polling for the office and Echelon’s clients.  I  was also tasked with preparing the background research and polling guide for the cofounder's weekly podcast, “The Pollsters.”  As I gained a  little more experience in how the polling industry worked later into the internship, the staff assigned me to a larger role in projects.

The office culture is quiet, so you may be working on your own for most of the day. A strong background in statistics and data analysis is a plus for this internship.  The staff tends to assign jobs based on proficiency, so if you have experience you will get more intensive assignments.  As someone who had minimal experience, I started on things at an elementary level and worked my way up.  For example, rather than working directly on their FCC database, I started by programming new entries. Overall, this internship was a valuable opportunity not only to experience the data side of politics, but also to get real experience in a work place.

Tyler Jenkins '19

Washington, D.C.