The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

For the GOP, personal data collection is a way of life

This LA Times op-ed takes a look at the special election to fill the seat of "Duke" Cunningham, and shows what an organizational juggernaut the Republican party continues to be.

Four days before this month's special election in San Diego County to replace imprisoned former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Republican strategists back in Washington were worried. In addition to voter discontent with GOP leadership and the looming shadow of scandal dominating the campaign, Democrats appeared to enjoy yet another advantage: More absentee ballots were being submitted by Democratic voters than by Republicans.

The advantage did not last long. Jolted to life, the GOP machinery revved into high gear as activists poured into the district. They scoured the party's computer database for sympathetic voters who had requested absentee ballots but had not yet submitted them, knocked on their doors and called them on the phone. Suddenly, thousands of additional votes had been secured, and by election day, the GOP had turned around a costly deficit — with 10,000 more Republicans than Democrats voting absentee. (. . .)

Some of the GOP advantages are recent developments, such as the database called Voter Vault, which was used to precision in the San Diego County special election. The program allows ground-level party activists to track voters by personal hobbies, professional interests, geography — even by their favorite brands of toothpaste and soda and which gym they belong to.

Couple this with gerrymandering and a monetary adavantage, and it looks like the elections this fall are still going to be an uphill battle all the way.