Democrats selling voter data to retailers?

posted at 10:01 am on February 5, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The success of the Democratic effort in 2012 was credited in large part to a massive data-mining effort and hyperaccurate microtargeting.  Data collection efforts by Democrats from the ground up allowed the party to fine-tune GOTV efforts and turn out voters that normally would have stayed home.  The technological and demographic edge allowed Barack Obama to win another term as President, and Democrats to pick up seats in the House and Senate, the latter somewhat unexpectedly.

What will Democrats do with all of that data?  Obama’s campaign has already reformed as a political lobbying effort funded by big corporations and special interests, somewhat hypocritically, as AFP pointed out yesterdayProPublica reports today that other Democrats may be selling all of that collected data not just to other activist groups, but also to big businesses:

Now, the record of what people told Democratic volunteers may go up for sale — and not just to political groups. Democrats are looking into whether credit card companies, retailers like Target or other commercial interests may want to buy the information. …

But local Democratic parties also have information about voters’ views and preferences collected over many campaign cycles. (We wrote about Minnesota’s data-collecting“Grandma Brigade” last month.) Some states have used this raw data to create sophisticated estimates of how likely any voter is to vote for a Democrat, support Barack Obama or have certain opinions, say, on abortion or gun control.

As the co-op moves into its second year of selling data in an already crowded marketplace, it’s looking for new potential clients — and companies who may use the data for commercial purposes, as opposed to political ones, are on the list.

“That’s one of our growth areas,” said Drew Brighton of TargetSmart Communications, which helps administer and market the Co-op’s data. “Over the next six months, we are going to go ahead and make the rounds with some corporate prospects.”

Brighton said retailers, for example, might be interested in figuring out if their customers are primarily Democrats or Republicans. “People want to know who shops in their stores,” he said.

Democrats involved with the co-op do not know what companies might be most interested in buying their voter data.

“What the co-op is doing is saying, ‘Look, there’s a wealth of information here, that could potentially benefit your corporation or your business interests,’” said Ken Martin, a member of the co-op’s board, and the chairman of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

They say that Wal-Mart won’t get an offer, but why not?  After all, I see other Democratic bêtes noires on the list — credit card companies, big corporations.  If it brings in cash, why quibble?  We’re no longer debating over what they will have become; it’s now merely haggling over price.

In the future, voters will become a lot more cautious about sharing that kind of information, once they realize that Democrats sold it for a few bucks.  Talk about killing the goose laying the golden eggs.


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At least our newly-digitized healthcare records will be kept private!

steebo77 on February 5, 2013 at 10:06 AM

In the future, voters will become a lot more cautious about sharing that kind of information, once they realize that Democrats sold it for a few bucks.

OK, now you’re just plain talking crazy Ed. In the Future, voters will do as their told, just like they do now.

SWalker on February 5, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Most of the democrat voters are parasites who cannot buy stuff and they only survive on the producers expense… I do not see how the democrat voters list is going to help any company…

mnjg on February 5, 2013 at 10:09 AM

I’d say it is time to start making lists of stores to boycott and let retailers like Target that they data-mine via the Dem political machine at their own peril.

Happy Nomad on February 5, 2013 at 10:10 AM

They voted for it.

Neo on February 5, 2013 at 10:11 AM

I think you must mean “re-formed” not “reformed”. You make it sound like they’ve renounced their evil ways.

jdpaz on February 5, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Most of the democrat voters are parasites who cannot buy stuff and they only survive on the producers expense… I do not see how the democrat voters list is going to help any company…

mnjg on February 5, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Oh, that’s not true. Retailers would need to know just how much WIC and welfare approved stuff they need to stock to get the parasite to blow their entire EBT card “benefits” at the local target instead of some other establishment. Think of it as one-stop-shopping for welfare recipients.

Happy Nomad on February 5, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Everything the evil corporations do is evil! Super PACs are evil!
-Democrat voter,2006

We will never bow to corporate interests! We will never be a super PAC!
-Democrat politician,2006

We sold your info. to… well… everyone! Meet the newest super PAC!
-Democrat politician,2013

Hail Obama!
-Democrat voter,2013

Gatsu on February 5, 2013 at 10:13 AM

At least our newly-digitized healthcare records will be kept private!

steebo77 on February 5, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Yep, just you, your doctor, your local death panel, and the bureaucrat in charge of approving your application to purchase a firearm.

Happy Nomad on February 5, 2013 at 10:13 AM

The success of the Democratic effort in 2012 was credited in large part to a massive data-mining effort and hyperaccurate microtargeting. Data collection efforts by Democrats from the ground up allowed the party to fine-tune GOTV efforts and turn out voters that normally would have stayed home.

Ed, you need to stop feeding that narrative. Obama didn’t win because of ninja GOTV techniques and super-awesome data mining and microtargeting. He won because he spent $100 million in unanswered attack ads demonizing Romney over the summer and because he put boots on the ground, knocked doors, and enlisted local volunteers to contact their friends and neighbors. That’s politics 101. Romney did none of those things. (I was in Ohio, and can say Romney’s campaign in Ohio was just bad, regardless of whatever inflated “voter contact” numbers the state’s campaign people were putting out).

Blaming the loss on “those kids and their whiz-bang technology” will just distract the GOP from the real reasons they lost and from the real changes they need to make to win again. (Hint: Karl Rove’s tea party-killer group is NOT such a change!)

Outlander on February 5, 2013 at 10:13 AM

I’m sure the sesquipedalian doesn’t mind being bought and sold as part of a collective.

gwelf on February 5, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Democrats selling voter data to retailers?

What’s wrong with that? They’ve been selling blacks into subsidized slavery for more than forty years; is there supposed to be some sort of moral conundrum now?

M240H on February 5, 2013 at 10:15 AM

At least our newly-digitized healthcare records will be kept private!

steebo77 on February 5, 2013 at 10:06 AM

In your dreams, it will be sold/shared with the big pharma companies that helped draft Obamacare.

nazo311 on February 5, 2013 at 10:16 AM

So much for “privacy concerns”.

GarandFan on February 5, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Ed, you need to stop feeding that narrative. Obama didn’t win because of ninja GOTV techniques and super-awesome data mining and microtargeting. He won because he spent $100 million in unanswered attack ads demonizing Romney over the summer and because he put boots on the ground, knocked doors, and enlisted local volunteers to contact their friends and neighbors. That’s politics 101. Romney did none of those things. (I was in Ohio, and can say Romney’s campaign in Ohio was just bad, regardless of whatever inflated “voter contact” numbers the state’s campaign people were putting out).

Blaming the loss on “those kids and their whiz-bang technology” will just distract the GOP from the real reasons they lost and from the real changes they need to make to win again. (Hint: Karl Rove’s tea party-killer group is NOT such a change!)

Outlander on February 5, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Obama had 10 million fewer voters in 2012 than in 2008. Romney got fewer than McCain. I do think Obama’s GOTV effort was better than Romney’s in part due to the technology advantage but I agree with you that it’s overblown.

gwelf on February 5, 2013 at 10:17 AM

ROFL

The fight against the Corporate Man just took a turn for the worse.

But don’t worry, lefties, the demorats are still for the little guy, promise.

Bishop on February 5, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Ed, you need to stop feeding that narrative. Obama didn’t win because of ninja GOTV techniques and super-awesome data mining and microtargeting. He won because he spent $100 million in unanswered attack ads demonizing Romney over the summer and because he put boots on the ground, knocked doors, and enlisted local volunteers to contact their friends and neighbors. That’s politics 101. Romney did none of those things. (I was in Ohio, and can say Romney’s campaign in Ohio was just bad, regardless of whatever inflated “voter contact” numbers the state’s campaign people were putting out).

Blaming the loss on “those kids and their whiz-bang technology” will just distract the GOP from the real reasons they lost and from the real changes they need to make to win again. (Hint: Karl Rove’s tea party-killer group is NOT such a change!)

Outlander on February 5, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Yeah the narrative was created by liberals and now some on our side are falling for it that elections “technology software” won the race for Obama and lost it for Romney… It is utter bullsh*t…

mnjg on February 5, 2013 at 10:19 AM

They say that Wal-Mart won’t get an offer, but why not? After all, I see other Democratic bêtes noires on the list — credit card companies, big corporations. If it brings in cash, why quibble? We’re no longer debating over what they will have become; it’s now merely haggling over price.

Actually, this serves the public good, if you’re a Democrat. Selling data to corporations isn’t horrible, especially since most of the data are already aggregated from public sources or marketing databases already.

But if you can take your voter contact data and sell it and rake in a cool $10-20 million dollars, you can reinvest that money in improving your voter intelligence efforts in future elections and make even more Democrats win! Remember, the only ethics Democrats care about are the ethics of winning.

Outlander on February 5, 2013 at 10:19 AM

So…Big Media can publish citizen campaign donations & Democrats can sell voter info to the highest bidder…

Fascist is as Fascist does.

workingclass artist on February 5, 2013 at 10:20 AM

So much for “privacy concerns”.

GarandFan on February 5, 2013 at 10:17 AM

The Democrats will stand up to defend all of your rights. As long as they don’t interfere with the collective.

gwelf on February 5, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Obama had 10 million fewer voters in 2012 than in 2008. Romney got fewer than McCain. I do think Obama’s GOTV effort was better than Romney’s in part due to the technology advantage but I agree with you that it’s overblown.

gwelf on February 5, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Actually Romney ended up with more votes than McCain but Obama lost over 4 million votes from 2008… Regardless, the point is true that the technology advantage is way overblown and the idea that there is a wizard technology software to have a major impact on elections is total BS…

mnjg on February 5, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Most of the democrat voters are parasites who cannot buy stuff and they only survive on the producers expense… I do not see how the democrat voters list is going to help any company…

mnjg on February 5, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Oh yes, it’s going to help. Big retailers learned where NOT to send any freebies.

Archivarix on February 5, 2013 at 10:24 AM

The result will probably be more data trading than buying and selling. Stores already collect buying habit data. How much more useful is incomplete demographic data to a retailer?

On the other hand, purchasing data can always be analyzed and put to use for political purposes. Look for the politicos to trade data with retailers, Google and Facebook. Together, they have all the info a Big Brother needs to keep a society “orderly”.

ROCnPhilly on February 5, 2013 at 10:24 AM

These are people who would buy a bridge I’m selling.

John the Libertarian on February 5, 2013 at 10:26 AM

I hear this story about Democrats selling data mining information and I think of the story from 30 years ago about what the upscale company head allegedly told a New York Post ad salesman, on why he wouldn’t place ads in their paper — “Your customers are our shoplifters.”

As long as Team Obama’s ready to foot the bill for the expenditures of their voters, I suppose companies buying the information can rest assured they’re going to get paid. But a lot of the low info voters mined to the polls this past November are the same ones the Clintons and Andrew Cuomo catered to 15 years ago, making the housing mortgage crisis possible. A business that makes them the basis of their future growth plans may be in need of a GM-Chrysler bail-out a few years down the line.

jon1979 on February 5, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Actually Romney ended up with more votes than McCain but Obama lost over 4 million votes from 2008… Regardless, the point is true that the technology advantage is way overblown and the idea that there is a wizard technology software to have a major impact on elections is total BS…

mnjg on February 5, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Correct. I was still using the numbers released immediately following the election but turned out to be inaccurate.

gwelf on February 5, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Why do Democrats make WAR ON WALLETS?

M240H on February 5, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Yeah the narrative was created by liberals and now some on our side are falling for it that elections “technology software” won the race for Obama and lost it for Romney… It is utter bullsh*t…

mnjg on February 5, 2013 at 10:19 AM

I think that’s a helpful narrative for Establishment Republicans because it takes the focus off their failures. If you blame whiz-bang technology, you don’t have to talk about how the GOP and Romney alienated their entire base, then wondered why none of them showed up to the polls. If you blame microtargeting, you don’t have to ask yourselves why our disastrous primary weakened Romney and laid the groundwork for Obama’s win. (Sorry, Newt fans, but Newt started the “Romney-as-heartless-corporate-raider” meme that Obama ran with all summer long). And if you blame voter intelligence, you don’t need to talk about how the GOP’s failure to constructively engage on Life issues led to Obama successfully convincing large numbers of American women believing Romney was going to legalize rape and take their birth control pills away.

I’ll get off my soap box now. Sick of this party.

Outlander on February 5, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Hum……. VOTING IS SUPPOSED TO BE SECRET in this country…

for the gubRmint to disclose whether I voted or not is no different than disclosing who(or what) I voted for.

of course if voting really mattered they would make it illegal.

roflmmfao

donabernathy on February 5, 2013 at 10:34 AM

***

Actually Romney ended up with more votes than McCain but Obama lost over 4 million votes from 2008… Regardless, the point is true that the technology advantage is way overblown and the idea that there is a wizard technology software to have a major impact on elections is total BS…

mnjg on February 5, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Thank you. I remember a days-after report that Obama lost 9 or 10 million votes. Then, recently, I thought I’d seen a fairly reliable source say that it had been nailed down to 4 million after all the votes had been counted.

It seems to me that the 4 million drop represents 4 million swing voters who simply wanted to be on the Obama bandwagon but couldn’t see yanking the lever for Obama again but couldn’t bring themselves to yank it for Romney. Where I suppose the Obama campaign succeeded was getting the moochers mobilized again as in 2008 and scaring the p*ss out of single women and single mothers.

The unanswered ads, the 47% crack, and the uninspiring candidacy of Romney killed him.

BuckeyeSam on February 5, 2013 at 10:35 AM

The success of the Democratic effort in 2012 was credited in large part to a massive data-mining effort and hyperaccurate microtargeting.

You think this had something to do with cell phone givaways in key demographic areas in swing states? Does a bear defecate in the woods?

Good reason to keep your I/Android phone GPS signal off when not in use. In the fine print you didn’t read when you clicked “I Accept” the terms & conditions for your service it says your service provider may “share” information about you. Your searches and browsing habits provide information valuable to targeted marketing. But the scarey part is, if your GPS is always on they know where you work, where you live, where you shop, where you eat, drink and be merry…

We are systematically abdicating our right to privacy. The tin-foil hat people are loony tunes – but had a point.

swede7 on February 5, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Currently, political callers are exempt from rules relating to do-not-call lists, which means that political groups have access to at least one form of information gathering not available to traditional business interests. If those political groups are little other than shills for corporate interests, are they still going to be able to avail themselves of that exemption?

Selkirk on February 5, 2013 at 10:41 AM

Actually Romney ended up with more votes than McCain but Obama lost over 4 million votes from 2008… Regardless, the point is true that the technology advantage is way overblown and the idea that there is a wizard technology software to have a major impact on elections is total BS…

mnjg on February 5, 2013 at 10:21 AM

It’s like anything liberal/commie. Results don’t matter intent does. If they are able to get vast sums of cash selling data, does it really matter if the data is accurate or not?

Happy Nomad on February 5, 2013 at 10:41 AM

If you’ve ever signed up to comment at a liberal site you might have noticed one of their income streams is selling your email like a mercenary to every sleazy, Trojan infected POS in the world.

Speakup on February 5, 2013 at 10:43 AM

More bullshit mythology, promulgated without challenge. Their supposed wondrous technological feat garnered millions LESS votes than in 2008. While the RINO opponent netted even less as conservatives stayed home.
Yet we’re repeatedly told the same lies, the GOP didn’t pander enough and the Democrats constructed a technological terror on the way to christening Debt Star II.

rayra on February 5, 2013 at 10:44 AM

The Republicans will try this the next election cycle (the data mining, not necessarily the selling) and the Democrats will be all over them for it. “Don’t give information to the Republicans, they only wanna sell it to Wal-Mart!”

dkmonroe on February 5, 2013 at 10:44 AM

The most efficent way to use data and technology is to pinpoint the exact voting precincts that are pivitol to an election’s outcome and cheat in those precincts only. Properly identiying these polling places would allow for the least amount of cheating resources producing maximum effect.

In those precincts that usually turnout against you, reduce turnout numbers and close the margin of loss. In areas that historically turnout for you, increase both the margin of victory and the voter turnout.

Of course, you would need to control or even remove opposing poll watchers.

Helps if you control the unions that maintain the voting equipment and certify the counts.

ROCnPhilly on February 5, 2013 at 10:49 AM

Actually Romney ended up with more votes than McCain but Obama lost over 4 million votes from 2008… ***
mnjg on February 5, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Hmm. Here are numbers from three major swing states from 2004 to 2012:

Florida: 2004: Kerry 3,583,544, Bush 3,964,522
2008: Obama 4,287,367, McCain 4,046,219
2012: Obama 4,237,756, Romney 4,163,447

Ohio: 2004: Kerry 2,729,952, Bush 2,858,727
2008: Obama 2,940,044, McCain 2,677,820
2012: Obama 2,827,621, Romney 2,661,407

Virginia: 2004: Kerry 1,454,742, Bush 1,716,959
2008: Obama 1,959,532, McCain 1,725,005
2012: Obama 1,971,820, Romney 1,822,522

I note two trends. First, the GOP is definitely lagging in Ohio. In both FL and VA, Republicans have increased their vote count since 2004. In Ohio it’s slid backwards.

Second, the GOP is significantly lagging in terms of voter registration and turnout. Across the country you see a big boost in voter turnout starting in 2004 due to the passage of Motor Voter and Help America Vote Act. But almost all of that advantage seems to have gone to the Democrats–particularly in 2008. Why aren’t Republicans attempting to register more GOP-friendly voters?

Outlander on February 5, 2013 at 10:50 AM

The obligatory NSFW Animal House clip:

forest on February 5, 2013 at 10:52 AM

In the future, voters will become a lot more cautious about sharing that kind of information, once they realize that Democrats sold it for a few bucks.

In case you’re not paying attention, this is the entire reason Facebook exists.

Millions of people gladly handing over volumes of personal data. Should the government demand the same data, they would go insane.

Facebook, Google, Bing, etc….

BobMbx on February 5, 2013 at 10:52 AM

My liberal Democrat relatives, who hate big corporations, are going to hear about this.

PattyJ on February 5, 2013 at 10:56 AM

I guess everyone’s tattoo will be a bar code.

docflash on February 5, 2013 at 10:57 AM

My liberal Democrat relatives, who hate big corporations, are going to hear about this.

PattyJ on February 5, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Indeed. This is good information to share with all the progs we know. Good FB material.

forest on February 5, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Collect data for the purpose of manipulating /using people – then sell it for the purpose of manipulating/using people. Sounds about right. I doubt the voters will ever know how they’ve been sold out and herded like sheep.

underdog on February 5, 2013 at 11:03 AM

0Stahlin and the Dimrats won in November because of the Force Multiplier effect of the 3nemy M3dia sharing his s0cialist “values.” Period.

All the data mining in the world amounted to a hill of beans compared to this.

P.S. No surprise that the Dimrat hypocrites are selling out to big business. Putting on my fake shocked face.

FlatlanderByTheLake on February 5, 2013 at 11:47 AM

My liberal Democrat relatives, who hate big corporations, are going to hear about this.

PattyJ on February 5, 2013 at 10:56 AM

And your liberal relatives’ response will be:

I checked that out. It’s not true, I don’t believe it and Republicans are evil.

Fenris on February 5, 2013 at 12:17 PM

…Second, the GOP is significantly lagging in terms of voter registration and turnout. Across the country you see a big boost in voter turnout starting in 2004 due to the passage of Motor Voter and Help America Vote Act. But almost all of that advantage seems to have gone to the Democrats–particularly in 2008. Why aren’t Republicans attempting to register more GOP-friendly voters?

Outlander on February 5, 2013 at 10:50 AM

This goes to something I think most conservatives do not understand. Many of them think if we could just get the great silent majority who keep choosing not to vote to vote, then the true conservatism of the American People would emerge and we would be triumphant.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The stupid, lazy, irresponsible nonvoters will vote overwhelmingly Democrat progressive if we make voting easy enough.

The quickest way to get a restoration of the Republic and a return to respect for the Constitution would be to make it much, much more difficult to vote, so that only eligible voters with a strong sense of duty and obligation to vote would actually be voting.

fadetogray on February 5, 2013 at 12:26 PM

One more way for the

Ueberwachungsgesellschaft

Look it up – Hitler is a clue…

They begin like this…then monitor more, then have you in the camps.

Schadenfreude on February 5, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Leftists are always tyrants.

Schadenfreude on February 5, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Actually Romney ended up with more votes than McCain but Obama lost over 4 million votes from 2008… Regardless, the point is true that the technology advantage is way overblown and the idea that there is a wizard technology software to have a major impact on elections is total BS…

mnjg on February 5, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Project ORCA didn’t help one bit with the GOTV effort. If anything, that was an out-and-out disaster that probably cost Mitt votes.

But it was his campaign’s insistence to run OCRA, which shows you and me just how much they really wanted to win.

Myron Falwell on February 5, 2013 at 1:12 PM

One of the advantages of depending on low information votes to stay in power, is never having to say your sorry. Does anyone think the MSM or the Comedy Channel will get around to mentioning this? And if they don’t, the great bulk of the Democratic electorate will never know the difference.

Fred 2 on February 5, 2013 at 2:28 PM