Tuesday, July 20, 2004

washingtonpost.com: Parties Square Off In a Database Duel

washingtonpost.com: Parties Square Off In a Database Duel "The 2004 election will be the first presidential election in which both national parties use their database and number-crunching skills to shape their organizing and get-out-the-vote strategies.
Marketers have used databases to target customers for years -- they know enough about your credit history to offer you that low-interest credit card -- but the political world is just becoming acquainted. For several years, largely out of public view, the two major parties have been assembling their infobanks, each with the same daunting goal. By tracking the electorate, and employing ever more sophisticated statistical models through the field called "data mining," the parties and their candidates hope to zero in on who will vote, how they might vote, and how to persuade them to vote for Republicans or Democrats.
"You could ask me about any city block in America, and I could tell you how many on that block are likely to be health care voters, or who's most concerned about education or job creation," said DNC Chairman Terence R. McAuliffe. "And I could press a button and six seconds later you'd have a name, an address and a phone number for each of them. We can then begin a conversation with these people that is much more sophisticated and personal than we ever could before."
It is not quite that simple. Models and databases offer better-educated guesses, not certainty, about what a voter thinks and how he or she is likely to behave. But with enough computing power, enough personal details and the right search features, political database pros say they are improving the efficiency of an array of campaign decisions, including fundraising, advertising and get-out-the-vote operations."
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