25 - student - NYC That's all for now.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Politics in the Internet


Dick Morris foresaw the movement from TV to the internet in the realm of politics. Trippi took this to a new level with the Dean campaign. The Democrats equalled the fundraising capacity of the Republicans in one fell swoop - the swoop of the Internet Revolution.

But fundraising is really only one of the many capabilities that the internet can harness. Another, more frightening I would think, possibility is using the data mining capacity to manipulate the actual voting. And I'm not talking negative campaign ads. Something far more insidious. Data mining is a wonderous technology. Already with the information you give your local grocery store in exchange for 5 cents off yogurt - remember when you signed your soul away for that Whole Foods discount credit card - the data miners know more about your preferences than you do. In conjunction with the information they buy from Whole Foods and the stuff they get from Amazon.com and Dominos Pizza. They know what brand of oatmeal you like and what time you eat pizza on Thursday night. They know what music you prefer and what time you go to bed at night. They know that you drive a Volvo and get your hair cut twice a month. You don't think they can't use this to know how you'll vote and what might entice you not to?


The question is whether in a finite period of time leading to an absolutely firm deadline, it is possible to move a couple of percent in the choice preference of consumers (voters). That's all it would take to swing the Presidential election.

The data mining, at this point, defines 2 variables -

1. The less important variable, who do you choose to vote for?
2. Then the second, more important variable - do you choose to vote at all?

The 2004 campaigns were already trying to do this - but negatively. They wanted to know what radio stations to buy time for, but not to convince you to vote for their side. No. They are paying for the opportunity to depress by one fraction of a percent the chance that a given person will vote. The sad reality is that it is much easier to convince people not to vote. That doesn't require any elaborate calisthenics. Getting people out of the system is easy. Their feet are halfway across the threshold from the get-go.

And it is even easier to determine what internet sites people will visit. Maybe send a person you don't want to a vote some sort of enticement on voting day to distract them from voting. Changing 1 or 2% is all you would need in national votes.

It's a lot cheaper to campaign this way - rather than Bloomberg's way or the Forrester/Corzine race.

As an example - take a look at Jesse "the body" Ventura's gubernatorial election in Minnesota. He had a terrible organization yet somehow had a groundswell of volunteer support in every town he went. He achieved this through the net.


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