Sunday, September 21, 2008

High-Tech IT To Find And Contact Potential Voters

Ground War: Obama And The Long March
By Thomas B. Edsall
The adoption of new, high-tech information technologies to locate and contact potential voters began in earnest in 2001 under the guidance of TargetPoint Consulting president Alex Gage, the Republican operative who earned a substantial share of the credit for the highly successful 2004 Bush-GOP microtargeting-GOTV drive.

Gage, whose firm continues to work for the Republican National Committee, said his impression is that the Democrats have made giant steps in the technology of voter contacts, and are well positioned to capitalize on the support Obama has generated.

Ken Strasma, president and founder of Strategic Telemetry, is performing microtargeting GOTV for the Obama campaign. He argues that, in some cases, the predictive accuracy of his firm's modeling of voter profiles is in the 99+ percent range.

In the aftermath of the 2004 Republican victory, both the Democratic National Committee and Catalist, a company created by Democratic operatives Harold Ickes and Laura Quinn, began parallel voter list development programs. Strasma has used data from both the DNC and Catalist.

Each category of voter as broken down by Strasma requires different methods of contact. Within the broad category of those committed to vote for Obama are both those who can be trusted to go to cast ballots November 4 with little or no encouragement, and those who are not reliable -- who will have to be pushed, prodded, and possibly driven to the polls. The undecided, in turn, fall into a host of categories, ranging from those with specific issue agendas to be addressed (taxes, Social Security, health care) to those wondering if they can bring themselves to vote for an African American.
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