But in 2012 everyone has unlimited money so outspending the other guy with campaign ads won't work again. Instead, politicians are spending money on data mining, so they know what your hot buttons are.
Live near a Whole Foods? Joe Biden talking about President Obama whacking Osama Bin Laden is not going to resonate with you but talking about more regulations on food and medicine will likely be inspirational and give you a shot of dopamine. Live near a Cracker Barrel? Never mind, you are voting Republican.
Big Data is Big News in 2012. And Big Data knows everything about you and how to get you to vote. Political campaigns insist they are just doing what corporations do already - targeting ads to voters - but that may not be the case.
Yet if you visited their sites, you agreed to it. The Obama and Romney campaign websites disclose that they put Internet 'cookies' on your computer or phone to track not just what you do on the site but that it "may be linked to personally identifying information" about you everywhere - and "for any other purpose for which the information was collected." That's rather broad.
Obviously smarter ads have their upside, even if quote-mining (see how easy it is?) their creepy Big Brother verbage looks alarming. In California, every time Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi or Senator Barbara Boxer runs for reelection we get campaign ads insisting they are the only thing holding back the Supreme Court from outlawing abortions - it's not 1972 any more, people. And I am an independent so I may not be as smart as Republicans and Democrats, but I am pretty sure Supreme Court justices are not making decisions based on California campaign promises. I'd certainly like to instead have ads telling me politicians won't raise taxes in order to prop up government pensions, since politicians spent all that pension money already and would like to use education money to do it but I don't think their algorithms are that sophisticated.
"There's this sense in a democracy that we want people to be able to go the polls and exercise their right to vote free of any peering eyes," Rainey Reitman, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's activism director, told Josh Richman of Bay Area News Group. "The majority of people aren't realizing how much data these election campaigns are compiling on them in order to convince them to come to the polls."
No, no, this is all done benevolently, the campaigns insured Richman - they are from the government, so they are here to help you. "We have strong safeguards in place to protect personal information, including what people share with us, and we do not provide any personal information to outside entities,'' said an Obama spokeman. And "the Romney campaign respects the privacy rights of all Americans. We are committed to ensuring that all of our voter outreach is governed by the highest ethical standard" assured the spokeman of his opponent.
In reality they know everything about you. But ask for the college records of one side or the tax statements of another and apparently privacy is a fundamental right.
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