“Sitting at his laptop, Jon Black scrolled over “Arkansas” to see a burst of bar graphs, each representing a week’s worth of data on an important slice of the electorate: Republican-leaning Arkansans who often don’t vote. Black winced.
A crooked blue line skirted just above the top of seven consecutive bars, telling Black, director of voter turnout at the Republican National Committee, that his Arkansas colleagues were short of their goals for this particular cluster of voters labeled “High Value GOP.” He called his colleagues in Arkansas.
Almost instantly, Tom Cotton’s Senate campaign started visiting, calling, and aiming digital ads at every young white male in the cluster. The data showed them to be the most persuadable of the “High Value GOP” voters. For each young white man – thousands of them – Republican Party operatives had a name, an address, a voting history, and most important, a rich attitudinal profile based largely on their online activities. Within a week, Cotton was back on target.
Welcome to 21st century micro-targeting – the ability to collect and crunch vast amounts of data on virtually every American and use that data to shape how people shop, eat, work, worship, play, and, of course, vote. What data-miners know about you is mind-boggling – if not at least a little bit frightening.”