The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Election 2012

November 20, 2012

Democrats push to redeploy Obama’s voter database



By Craig Timberg and Amy Gardner

The Washington Post


WASHINGTON — If you voted this election season, President Barack Obama almost certainly has a file on you. His vast campaign database includes information on voters’ magazine subscriptions, car registrations, housing values and hunting licenses, along with scores estimating how likely they were to cast ballots for his reelection.

And though the election is over, Obama’s database is just getting started.

Democrats are now pressing to expand and redeploy the most sophisticated voter list in American political history, beginning with next year’s gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey and extending to campaigns for years to come. The prospect already has some Republicans worried.

“It’s always hard to play catch-up,” said Peter Pasi, a Republican direct marketer who worked on Rick Santorum’s primary challenge to Romney. “It can be done by 2016. I’m much more doubtful it can happen by 2014.”

The database consists of voting records and political donation histories bolstered by vast amounts of personal but publicly available consumer data, say campaign officials and others familiar with the operation, which was capable of recording hundreds of fields for each voter.

Campaign workers added far more detail through a broad range of voter contacts — in person, on the phone, over email or through visits to the campaign’s Web site. Those who used its Facebook application, for example, had their files updated with lists of their Facebook friends along with scores measuring the intensity of those relationships and whether they lived in swing states. If their last names seemed Hispanic, a key target group for the campaign, the database recorded that, too.

The result was a digital operation far more elaborate than the one mounted by Obama’s Republican rival, Mitt Romney, who collected less data and deployed it less effectively, say officials from both parties.

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