The ability of the Obama campaign to tailor its message has been part of my worry about just how difficult he will be to beat in the coming election campaign. But the level of sophistication now being reported is utterly beyond anything anyone might have conceived even as recently as the last election. This article on the use of voter profiling to decide what messages to send each individual person on its vast database listing millions of voters raises the ante to quite a phenomenal degree. Just think about this:
As part of a project code-named Narwhal, Obama’s team is working to link once completely separate repositories of information so that every fact gathered about a voter is available to every arm of the campaign. Such information-sharing would allow the person who crafts a provocative email about contraception to send it only to women with whom canvassers have personally discussed reproductive views or whom data-mining targeters have pinpointed as likely to be friendly to Obama’s views on the issue….
Permanently linking the campaign’s various databases in real time has become one of the major projects for Obama’s team this year. Full data integration would allow the campaign to target its online communication as sharply as it does its offline voter contact. When it comes to sensitive subjects like contraception, the campaign could rely on its extensive predictive models of individual attitudes and preferences to find friendly recipients….
More broadly, Narwhal would bring new efficiency across the campaign’s operations. No longer will canvassers be dispatched to knock on the doors of people who have already volunteered to support Obama. And if a donor has given the maximum $2,500 in permitted contributions, emails will stop hitting him up for money and start asking him to volunteer instead. Those familiar with Narwhal’s development say the completion of such a technical infrastructure would also be a gift to future Democratic candidates who have struggled to organize political data that has been often arbitrarily siloed depending on which software vendor had primacy at a given moment.
The example used in the story is abortion but choose any issue you like and voters will be targeted with just the line the campaign’s data mining capability already knows will appeal to them. Any message that might put them off is left unsent. Meantime, the President merely keeps up with his vacuous hope and change meme, or something equally empty so that while he appears to be saying something, never says anything so definite that it would put offside anyone unsure of how to vote.