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How high tech hijacked America

The secrecy around the operation was partly because the president’s strategists wanted to maintain their competitive edge. But it was also no doubt because they worried that practices like “data mining” and “analytics” could make voters uncomfortable.

On 6/20/13, the New York Times published a lengthy article: Data You Can Believe In: The Obama Campaign’s Digital Masterminds Cash In

A friend emailed the link to me with these observations:

It was not the lack of “Hispanic” votes for Romney. It was not even Mitt not getting his base out, because of his lack of aggressiveness in campaigning, and the Alinskyite attacks on him. Those were factors.

But, the main factor was a high-tech campaign never seen before, utilizing the knowledge and databases of Barry’s commercial cyber spy supporters. That is what enabled a failed president to get out the vote from the no information voters in unprecedented high percentages.

And what occurs to me is that the monitoring of Americans’ meta-data, which resulted in no verifiable security advantages, filtered over into a high-tech campaign, which enabled a second disastrous term for Barry.

I didn’t really want to wade through all of it, until I happend to skim something towards the end which is absolutely chilling:

He said his work at A.M.G. would also help provide the Democratic Party with even better tools three years from now, when he and his colleagues say they want to be involved in 2016. “We’re going to bring it home,” McLean said.

Flash back to 2008:

But even before the president took office, as the economy was in meltdown, his strategists, looking ahead four years, assumed that his re-election would not be easy. Wagner was assigned to the Democratic National Committee headquarters, where he set out to develop a far more sophisticated version of his analytics system, using bigger computer servers, better data on the nation’s voting-age population and more precise algorithms.

Flash forward to October, 2012:

A couple of weeks before Election Day, over drinks at the Pump Room in Chicago’s Gold Coast, a safe distance away from the re-election headquarters and its press minders, Grisolano and Erik Smith first let on that there was far more happening in the Chicago campaign office than any of us covering it truly understood. Grisolano told me that the campaign literally knew every single wavering voter in the country that it needed to persuade to vote for Obama, by name, address, race, sex and income. What’s more, he hinted, the campaign had figured out how to get its television advertisements in front of them with a previously inconceivable level of knowledge and accuracy.

As for television and demographic segmentation, Romney’s team thought trying to reach all the “left-handed Lithuanians” before everyone even knew who Romney was, would be fruitless.

It is not that the Romney campaign was unaware such technology could be developed. Rentrak, a nonpartisan vendor, reached out to offer its services in the spring of 2012 but found no takers. The former Bush strategist Sara Fagen worked with the Romney consulting firm TargetPoint to develop a competing optimizing service, but, she said, the media team “chose not to use it.”

The rest of the article details the pros and cons of leaving politics and government for the private sector and the idealism found (and lost) in changing the world:

Frommann told me that in 2010, shortly after college, he joined the Social Security Administration. Within a year, he had helped develop a new system that, he said, would have saved the administration as much as $1 billion a year. Just as his idea was gaining traction, his entire unit was disbanded, the ostensible result of budget cuts but also, he surmised, bureaucratic infighting.

You won’t be a bit surprised to read that it is the Republican-held House of Representatives that is the real source of angst for the whiz-kids of Washington:

But for now, he does not seem to miss Washington. “I respect everybody who’s working for the president — right? They’re incredible kids — incredible people — but you have a limited movement, because you’re hamstrung; the House is the House,” he said.

Like I said, this is absolutely chilling:

He said his work at A.M.G. would also help provide the Democratic Party with even better tools three years from now, when he and his colleagues say they want to be involved in 2016. “We’re going to bring it home,” McLean said.

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