Microtargeting at Work in a House Race

Chris Cillizza and Jim VandeHei have a great article in today’s Post, “In Ohio, a Battle of Databases,” that looks in detail at how campaigns work with data behind the scenes to find voters, hit them with targeted messages and ultimately get them to the polls. Though the Republicans have a finely tuned turnout machine, an Ohio Democratic challenger has learned from 2004 and is racing to catch up. One section out of many worth reading:

In the past several elections, especially in Ohio, Republicans have won the ground game, building a vast and constantly growing network of potential voters identified less by their formal party affiliation than their church membership or magazine subscriptions.

The more information a campaign has on who lives at a particular address, the more tailored the pitch that will follow. A suburban mom? Make sure she receives material highlighting the candidate’s strong stands on homeland security. An out-of-work pipefitter? Let him know that the candidate supports penalties on businesses that hire undocumented workers.

Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee and one of the principal architects of the GOP turnout apparatus nationwide, said a top-notch voter identification and turnout effort matters more in a congressional race than a presidential one because there is “much less of a public dialogue” about individual House contests. They get less news coverage and are less likely to be talked about in offices and bars. That means targeted information delivered by the campaigns is potentially decisive.

Yes, microtargeting is a little big-brother creepy, but campaigns can’t ignore it. For more, see:


Written by
Colin Delany
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