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Are Dems Looking to Sell Voter Info to Retailers?


"Talk about killing the goose laying the golden eggs."

President Barack Obama. (Getty Images).

Republicans lost big in 2012 for a number of reasons, chief among these being the left’s mastery of technology and acquiring voter data.

Voter data digging, when applied correctly, enables one to reach an enormous base. It also helps campaigns tweak their “get out the vote” efforts. However, as noted by several conservative commentators, the GOP's attempts in 2012 to compete with Team Obama in this field ended in magnificent failure.

"No amount of planning to conduct Skype sessions or Google+ hangouts with activists or really cool plans to do snazzy demographically-targeted Facebook ads (hint: My mother can do those, too) or Internet radio advertising is going to overcome that basic deficiency," writes conservative consultant Liz Mair.

"What will is actually recruiting genuine technologists from, you know, tech companies to come work on GOP campaigns. But this is something the GOP isn’t doing as well at as we should," she adds, explaining what, she thinks, the GOP has been doing wrong.

The point of all this is to underscore the crucial role voter data plays in elections. It's pretty obvious. Therefore, it comes as a bit of shock to read that Democrats are considering selling this data to major retailers and various activist groups.

No, really. From ProPublica:

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.

If Democrats go down this road and sell their voter data to retailers, they might as well kiss their data digging/tech edge goodbye.

“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,” writes Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey.

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdaams) on Twitter

Featured image courtesy Getty Images.

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