Andrew Therriault, the former director of data science for the Democratic National Committee, is pushing back against Hillary Clinton’s comments that the DNC did not help her with its data in the 2016 election.
Clinton this week said in an interview that the Democratic National Committee’s data was poor or non-existent.
“We set up our own campaign, had our own data operation,” she said, according to CNN. “I get the nomination, so I’m now the nominee of the Democratic Party. I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party. I mean, it was bankrupt. It was on the verge of insolvency. Its data was mediocre to poor, non-existent, wrong. I had to inject money into it.”
So who is Andrew Therriault, and what has been his response to Hillary Clinton’s statement today? Here’s what you need to know.
1. He Worked for the Democratic National Committee for Two Years
Andrew Therriault spent two years working for the Democratic National Commmitee.
According to Therriault’s LinkedIn page, he began working for the DNC in May 2014, and he left in June 2016, right before Hillary Clinton officially became the Democratic party’s nominee for president.
Those on a data science team such as Therriault’s are tasked with analyzing data and gathering insights from it, in this case insights on American voters that can be used in a political campaign so that the campaign has an idea of who to target and how.
Before coming to work for the Democratic National Committee, Andrew Therriault worked for Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. This is a research, polling, and strategic consulting firm based out of Washington, D.C. Therriault’s job title here was senior data scientist, and according to his LinkedIn page, he worked in this position from September 2013 to May 2014, leaving to join the Democratic National Committee.
Therriault on his LinkedIn page says that at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, he developed tools for gaining further insights from survey data.
Prior to Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, Therriault worked as director of research and business development for NamePivotal Targeting / Lightbox Analytics, and before that, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Vanderbilt University.
Therriault says in a 2017 Medium article that one of his past experiences was developing a strategy in the campaign against California’s Proposition 32, which concerned financial contributions to political candidates.
2. He Currently Works for the City of Boston
Andrew Therriault left the Democratic National Committee in June 2016, going on to become the chief data officer for the city of Boston.
According to Boston.gov, Therriault heads Boston’s Citywide Analytics Team, and he also works with Chiefs and Commissioners to use data science and analytics to improve the lives of the citizens of Boston.
One initiative taken by the analytics team is CityScore, which is designed to measure the overall health of the city at any given time by aggregating a variety of performance metrics. This includes data on trash pickup, parks maintenance, potholes, streetlights, etc. They make this data available on their website, where visitors can see that the city’s current CityScore is 1.18, with 1.0 being the target.
They also post a variety of pieces of data about the city on the website for everyone to see, comparing this data to the yearly target.
3. He Has Pushed Back Against the Seth Rich Conspiracy Theories
As a former employee of the Democratic National Committee, Andrew Therriault was a critic of the baseless conspiracy theories that DNC staffer Seth Rich was murdered after giving material to Wikileaks.
The Rich conspiracy theories grew when Fox 5 D.C. published a report that he had contacted Wikileaks prior to his murder, a claim that later fell apart when the private investigator quoted in the story backtracked and said he was only basing this on what he read on the Internet.
Responding to a comment that it’s crazy that Fox 5 D.C.’s story was published, Therriault said that the one consolation in this is that Rich himself would have found it hilarious.
Therriault also tweeted that he had two words for the Fox 5 reporter who published the original Seth Rich story, with those two words presumably being “f— you.”
In addition, Therriault retweeted several tweets demanding that Fox 5 apologize to the family of Seth Rich, in addition to tweets calling out Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich for propagating these conspiracy theories.
4. He Said Hillary Clinton’s Loss Can’t Be Blamed on the Data Alone
Even before these new comments from Hillary Clinton, Andrew Therriault was already fighting against the idea that the Democratic National Committee’s use of data is part of the reason Hillary Clinton was defeated.
In a Medium post in February, Therriault said that a good data analysis team should work in conjunction with an effective campaign message but that the Democratic party was never particularly interested in their help.
“…[I]n 2016, those responsible for the party’s messaging were never all that interested in what we had to offer,” Therriault said. “In more than two years at the DNC, I had exactly one face-to-face meeting with any of the party leaders whose offices were thirty feet above ours. That meeting was in the wake of the 2014 debacle, when our team was asked to produce an internal report on what went wrong that November.”
Therriault said that since 2014, he and his data team pushed for the DNC to do more to understand voters and try to connect with them. He also says that an incredibly charismatic politician who really connects with voters only comes around once in a blue moon, implying Hillary Clinton was not one of those politicians and that she needed a more powerful message.
“…[I]n a perfect world, each of our candidates would come with a voice and message that wins over voters without ever having to field a poll or hire a consultant,” Therriault said. “But a Barack Obama or a Bill Clinton — or a Ronald Reagan or even, dare I say, a Donald Trump — only comes around once every decade or so. The rest have to learn to speak to voters somehow, and good data can help them do so in a way that reflects their constituents’ views and priorities.”
5. He Says Hillary Clinton’s Recent Comments Are ‘F—ing Bulls—‘
Andrew Therriault did not mince words today as he pushed back on Hillary Clinton’s criticism of the Democratic National Committee.
According to The Washington Post, Therriault tweeted on June 1st, “DNC data folks: today’s accusations are fucking bullshit, and I hope you understand the good you did despite that nonsense.”
In another tweet, Therriault said, “We will respond in due time, but for now, just realize your work was worth way more than you’re being given credit for.” He also said, “Private mode be damned, this is too important. I’m not willing to let my people be thrown under the bus without a fight.”
Finally, Therriault said in a tweet that the irony of Hillary Clinton’s bashing of the Democratic National Committee is that their data actually showed that Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were not safe, but “her team thought they knew better.”
Though all of these tweets have since been deleted, Therriault has not deleted his retweets of all of the following tweets critical of Hillary Clinton’s comments:
Therriault’s comments earned the attention of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who tweeted, “Time someone stood up to the bullying.”