By Karl Rove
“An arms race is under way that will deeply affect America’s future. It’s not about next-generation nuclear weapons or hypersonic missiles. Instead, it’s a struggle between Republicans and Democrats over who has the best political data. In this emerging digital age, elections hang in the balance.
The fight for data dominance began in 2004, when the Bush re-election campaign pioneered microtargeting. This uses survey results and consumer information to identify individual voters up for grabs and determine what motivates them, or which voters need extra encouragement to turn out and what energizes them.
By 2012 Democrats dominated the data battlefield, using more-advanced tools to pinpoint 15 million swing voters vital to President Obama’s re-election. His campaign gained a critical edge by mapping millions of connections between willing volunteers and their Facebook friends.
Facebook no longer allows that, and the pendulum began to swing back when leading Republicans created an independent for-profit information warehouse called Data Trust. (American Crossroads, which I co-founded, was an early backer.) Data Trust then signed an exclusive agreement with the Republican National Committee to exchange information and provide RNC data to Data Trust’s clients—GOP candidates and organizations and conservative groups…”
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