By Shaun Moore

As the campaign season winds down, both parties are scrambling to round up voters. Over the last several campaign cycles, the Republican party has built a reputation for being the party with a stellar 72-hour get out the vote plan. Democrats have tried to borrow from the Republican strategy, but it sounds like their listening to the wrong people.

“Micro-targeting” is a term the Republicans use to describe their get out the vote strategy. The idea is to correctly identify those who typically vote Republican and then target ads that speak specifically to that group’s interest. The strategists use lifestyle information, such as what magazines does the voter read, does the voter drive and SUV, and does the voter participate in primaries. Group that data in with basic demographics (age and gender) and you can begin to pinpoint which voters might be more likely to vote for your candidate.

Alexander Gage, who heads TargetPoint Consulting, a firm that helps the Republicans “know their voters”, says his services can be worth 10,000 votes in a close congressional race.

Micro-targetng has its opponents. Some believe that gathering the data is too expensive and doesn’t give you a concise picture of the voting pool. These people believe the best way to target potential voters is to look at their primary participation, and then get in touch with them on a personal level by calling or going door-to-door.

One fundamental flaw in this strategy is that you’re relying on voter information and participation as your principle data. Primary turnout is extremely low compared to a general election. This old-style strategy leaves out the candidate’s potentially untapped “market” and focuses on those already buying the product.

Rallying the base is something the Democratic party needs to get better at and they could definitely learn a few lessons from the GOP in this area. The Republican strategy is a better marketing strategy and unfortunately that’s what politics are today. In the recent past, the GOP has done a good job in targeting those voters that would most likely buy their product, but might not go to the store in the first place. In order for the Democrats to stay alive, they need to do a better job finding their untapped market.

Shaun Moore blogs at The Daily Spectator.

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