When voter microtargeting fails a campaign

Mitt Romney political ad
A screenshot from a Mitt Romney political ad posted to his YouTube channel Aug. 5, 2012.
Screengrab via YouTube

The presidential campaigns are using high-tech tools to tailor their messages for specific voters. They use hundreds of bits of data about voters to figure out what arguments will win their favor. But sometimes they get it wrong. So what kind of information do they have about voters? Where do they get it? And how does it sometimes steer them wrong?

From The New York Times:

For political campaigns, the process is called microtargeting. Information about voters -- like the charitable donations they make, the type of credit card they use and the Congressional district they live in -- is combined with voter registration records, and the result allows campaigns to send certain types of messages to voters.

For example, one person may see an ad that focuses on a candidate's employment message while another will see an ad about reproductive rights. Both presidential campaigns use some form of microtargeting.

"The overall sense is that there is a real discontent about this," said Prof. Joseph Turow of the Annenberg School. "You have a real disjuncture between the American public and the campaigns that are on a trajectory to increase it."

Eitan Hersh , assistant professor of political science at Yale University, will join The Daily Circuit Tuesday to discuss what the candidates know about you. Lois Beckett, reporter for ProPublica, will also join the discussion.

How do you feel about being targeted by political campaigns? Comment on the blog.

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