It's All About The Data
1:49 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

How To Psych Out Liberals And Get Them To The Polls

Attention, liberal voters: They know who you are. They know where you live.

Data wonks at MoveOn.org have figured out how to identify the progressives among ordinary Democratic voters for an experiment in voter psychology that they believe will turn the election in favor of Obama and all the down-ballot Democrats.

The mail pieces for MoveOn's Vote Score project will be dropping through Monday in 12 million liberal mailboxes in 11 swing states, nine Senate and 24 House districts. Nearly two million of those are coming to Florida.

Vote Score: This is what hypothetical liberal voter Terry Smith got in the mail. He has a good score...

It may freak you out if you get one, partly because it's evidence that somebody has singled you out as a liberal. Creepier still, it also has your voting history for the last five elections -- not whom you voted for, but whether you voted at all (that's public record, by the way).

But that's not all. Using another secret-sauce algorithm, MoveOn prepares a voting performance average for your entire neighborhood, compares it with your own record and assumes that the comparison and your competitive spirit will motivate you to go to the polls on Tuesday.

...but Terry Smith could never beat my Vote Score.

Neighborhood competition is a powerful thing, observes MoveOn's Tate Hausman, who says the Vote Score approach turned the tide in one Delaware primary election which he refused to identify.

"We do think this could be a game changer," he said. "It will turn out thousands of voters in swing states if our rates hold from the Delaware election. It could definitely win the election for Obama and the Democrats."

It's cheap, too, he says: four bucks a vote versus $28 for the next least expensive turnout enhancer, door-to-door canvassing.

You may be wondering how MoveOn identifies progressive/liberal voters. The formula is another closely-guarded MoveOn secret, Hausman says. But data miners say political leanings are easily inferred from such things as where you shop, what you buy, what church you attend and even your web browsing history.