Tailoring the message
"With the rise of the Internet it would be very hard for a candidate to talk out of both sides of their mouth on an issue-anything they say would be immediately out there-so you wouldn't try to tailor their message in different ways, but you would know how much to tailor their message," Strasma said. Strategic Telemetry lists a number of impressive statistics on its Web site. So far its microtargeting work has identified 34,208,571 Democratic target voters, including 7,368,609 voters in strongly Republican rural and exurban areas, and 23,616,066 likely undecided voters, and determined the strength of voter support for or in opposition to more than 35 issues and the level of motivation among Republican and Democrat base voters. Over the course of 2006, Strategic Telemetry's microtargeting scores were applied to more than 95 million voters.Carl Clark, executive director at SPIN, advises campaigns at the local level, from town council nominations to legislative races. He said campaigning is not what it used to be."In the last quarter of the last century you would have voter registration drives, but when it came down to do elections, since there were limited resources, [politicians] would put resources into trying to get people they knew were going to vote to vote for them," Clark said. "So they did all this work getting people registered, but they were never contacted after that, so new voters didn't vote. And it became harder to win elections," he said. The advent of personal computing, faster processing and cheaper storage has changed all that. "Instead of looking at voters who were already going to vote for us and wasting all that money, [microtargeting] tools have made it a lot easier," Clark said. "You don't have to have a Ph.D. You just have to understand politics. You know your business model, what the software does and how to apply it, and you can get a whole lot of value out of it and, in our case, win a lot more elections."