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Political Campaigns Mining Online Data To Target Voters 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the watching-you-through-your-webcam-too dept.
New submitter nicoles writes with this quote from an AP report: "The Romney and Obama campaigns are spending heavily on television ads and other traditional tools to convey their messages. But strategists say the most important breakthrough this year is the campaigns' use of online data to raise money, share information and persuade supporters to vote. The practice, known as 'microtargeting,' has been a staple of product marketing. Now it's facing the greatest test of its political impact in the race for the White House. ... The Romney team spent nearly $1 million on digital consulting in April and Obama at least $300,000. ... Campaigns use microtargeting to identify potential supporters or donors using data gleaned from a range of sources, especially their Internet browsing history. A digital profile of each person is then created, allowing the campaigns to find them online and solicit them for money and support."
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Political Campaigns Mining Online Data To Target Voters

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  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @07:31PM (#40150043)
    With the combination of this and search engines trying to tailor results to individual users, can we expect to see even more polarization between supporters of the major parties?
    • Re:So... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @08:52PM (#40150771)
      Do not underestimate the power of this kind of software. I've seen it in action and the data collection capabilities are astonishing. For example, say you get an email from some advertiser... and you even have your mail viewer set to not download images. If you open that email AT ALL, it's all HTML code. You just opened a page on their site custom designed for you. They know when they sent you the email, when you received it, when you opened it, what you looked at in it... if you followed any of the links in it. They likely have agreements with many of the sites you visit and based on your IP address and other unique identifiers know where you've been irrelevant of if you "logged in" or not. Even if you were in "private mode" in firefox, they can see it all. I even tested it on myself with no-script, adblock, etc... and when I checked what it logged it was amazing.

      Everything you do on most websites is logged, tracked, tied to you... or at least some unique info about you. They may not know who you are, but they don't care... they just need to know what you've looked at in the past, so they can show you things that their studies have shown you're not likely to pass up. Even if you don't fall for it, that's a data point that they'll use to serve up even more stuff to you later.
      • by Dynedain (141758)

        If you don't load images, they have no way to tell that you viewed the email.

        That's the whole point of unique tracking single-pixel images. Google Analytics works basically the same way (but they inject this pixel image via javascript).

      • Re:So... (Score:5, Informative)

        by rgbrenner (317308) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @12:19AM (#40151977)

        and you even have your mail viewer set to not download images

        the setting is not "do not download images".. it's "do not download external references".

        In thunderbird it is "Allow remote content. "
        In outlook it is "Block images and other external content in HTML e-mail. "

        What programmer would be stupid enough to stop images, but not other remote content? Not only is it a privacy issue, it is also a security issue.

        So I have a hard time believing you really understand how email tracking works.

        • The default setting for most of these applications is to allow remote content. Specifically I tested with Gmail and it by default was set to allow remote content but then asked if I wanted to download images.

          The majority of users are going to be either using Gmail or Outlook... and if they, by default, do not block content, 99.9% of users are not going to change it. Slashdot users might... but the rest of the world?
          • by rgbrenner (317308)

            Grandparent post:

            For example, say you get an email from some advertiser... and you even have your mail viewer set to not download images

            Which was the point I was addressing.

            So the default does not matter. Only what the setting actually does (images vs all content).

      • by Smauler (915644)

        If you open that email AT ALL, it's all HTML code. You just opened a page on their site custom designed for you.

        Not with thunderbird. By default (I think), it blocks remote content. It doesn't matter if the email is in html or not, it can't get access to the internet.

        • by rgbrenner (317308)

          Yes, thunderbird does block all remote content (not just images). It's a very standard feature. I checked outlook, outlook express, gmail, hotmail/windows live mail, and apple mail--- every single one blocks ALL remote content.

      • Call me naive, but if ABP is blocking the ads tailored to my profile, should I really give a damn how sophisticated their targeting approach is? If you're worried about being falsely accused of a crime based on your online usage that's one thing, but if targeted ads never even get your attention, who cares how they process whatever data to single you out. AFAIC, go ahead and spend all you want to identify me as a good prospect for your ad campaign. It's just going to hit a brick wall.

        As for the idiots th

        • You underestimate what this software is doing. When you go to a website, you see a different website than others that go to you. Adds being tailored to you is dead... that's a 10yr old technology. You are literally surfing a different website than your friends. The prices for things on amazon or newegg are often different for you than for other people.

          Lets say telemarketers call your house frequently... you never fall for it. But your wife is gullible and always falls for their gimmicks. Now she's been targ
      • Any decent mail reader not only doesn't download images, it doesn't download *anything* until you okay it. That's how all of mine work.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      Actually, it's more like "promises of unicorns and apologies for a complete lack of delivery of anything positive for society including what was in campaign promises". Replace unicorns with anything from any major political party so far, including tea party, libertarians, etc.

      Or you could, you know, start doing things that society benefits from instead of lobby and major corporations, but you wouldn't need to mine data to figure that out.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @07:38PM (#40150105)

    Are you anti-war, pro-bill of rights, and anti-deficit spending? If not then you're not getting any dollars from me Romney or Obama.

    But I guess you already knew that from my web surf history. "Running-up 2 trillion in debt is unpatriotic!" Yeah. I agree Candidate Obama. You ran up almost 3x that amount; Romney looks set to do the same.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by StevenMaurer (115071)

      Obama is anti-war, he is getting us out of Iraq and Afghanistan as gracefully as possible.

      Obama is pro bill-of-rights. He's signed three laws allowing for better access to firearms (not passed when the GOP was fully in charge under Bush), and unlike Ron Paul, he doesn't think government should be regulating women's wombs.

      Obama is anti deficit spending. He has come out publicly in favor of making multi-millionaires and billionaires pay at least the tax rates of their secretaries and taxing corporations that

      • by Shavano (2541114)

        Obama is anti-war, he is getting us out of Iraq and Afghanistan as gracefully as possible.

        Ridiculous. He escalated the war in Afghanistan.

        Obama is pro bill-of-rights. He's signed three laws allowing for better access to firearms (not passed when the GOP was fully in charge under Bush), and unlike Ron Paul, he doesn't think government should be regulating women's wombs.

        On the other hand, he has continued and extended infringements on your 4th Amendment rights. Not that I think Romney would do less.

        Obama is anti deficit spending. He has come out publicly in favor of making multi-millionaires and billionaires pay at least the tax rates of their secretaries and taxing corporations that outsource jobs rather than those that keep jobs in the U.S.

        That much is true, but he hasn't done squat to control spending.

        • by artor3 (1344997)

          Obama is anti deficit spending. He has come out publicly in favor of making multi-millionaires and billionaires pay at least the tax rates of their secretaries and taxing corporations that outsource jobs rather than those that keep jobs in the U.S.

          That much is true, but he hasn't done squat to control spending.

          Wrong. Obama has been very tight on spending. Check out the historical record [whitehouse.gov].

          Discretionary spending during Obama's first two terms (the only years with finalized data) averaged 9.1% of the GDP. Under Reagan, the average was 9.9%. The only reason Obama's spending seems high is because of the mandatory spending categories like Social Security and unemployment benefits. Those go up when we're in recession, for obvious reasons, and it would take a major act of Congress to get rid of them (not that that wo

          • and it would take a major act of Congress to get rid of them

            Indeed it would, but that would require something that President Obama is sorely lacking; Leadership . If Rudy Giuliani [wikipedia.org] had been in office instead of Obama, we wouldn't be having this conversation because these things would have already been done. New Yorkers don't beat around the bush, they get shit done.

            (not that that would even be desirable).

            That's debatable. What's not debatable is that some changes are necessary if these programs are going to remain available in any meaningful way for millennials and those now in their prime working years (

            • and it would take a major act of Congress to get rid of them

              Indeed it would, but that would require something that President Obama is sorely lacking; Leadership . If Rudy Giuliani [wikipedia.org] had been in office instead of Obama, we wouldn't be having this conversation because these things would have already been done. New Yorkers don't beat around the bush, they get shit done.

              (not that that would even be desirable).

              That's debatable. What's not debatable is that some changes are necessary if these programs are going to remain available in any meaningful way for millennials and those now in their prime working years (approximately ages 30-50). Just go out and ask anyone under the age of 40 whether or not they believe there will be anything left once the boomers have passed through. Most of them either believe that they will get essentially nothing OR they have rocks in their heads and shouldn't be asked about financial matters in general and certainly not about actuarial matters.

              Rudy Giuliani? Tell me another one.

              Social Security is fine. A few tweaks like subjecting incomes higher than $110,000 to the FICA tax would bring collections closer to expenditures. It's really a matter of priorities. We have plenty of money, it's a matter of how we choose to spend it. I don't hear anyone wringing their hands about not being able to fund Homeland Security or the Pentagon. I'm right around 40 and I fully expect Social Security to be there. I paid into it, I want my benefit.

              • by cpu6502 (1960974)

                >>>A few tweaks like subjecting incomes higher than $110,000 to the FICA tax would bring collections closer to expenditures. It's really a matter of priorities. We have plenty of money, it's a matter of how we choose to spend it
                >>>
                Congress would just hand-out bigger checks. That's how they operate. Like Greek politicians..... which have bankrupted their country with an SSI program that starts at age 55.

              • A few tweaks like subjecting incomes higher than $110,000 to the FICA tax would bring collections closer to expenditures.

                Don't you get it? The long term debt trajectory is the utter destruction of the dollar as a currency (see Zimbabwe). Eventually the increase in the debt and its associated compounding interest payments begin to approach infinity and long before that happens the dollar will have become essentially worthless anyway. So yes, the government promises to pay your social security check in worthless dollars, but what good is that to you? Ask those pensioners who received their defined payments in Zimbabwe dollars h

                • Don't you get it? The long term debt trajectory is the utter destruction of the dollar as a currency (see Zimbabwe). Eventually the increase in the debt and its associated compounding interest payments begin to approach infinity and long before that happens the dollar will have become essentially worthless anyway. So yes, the government promises to pay your social security check in worthless dollars, but what good is that to you? Ask those pensioners who received their defined payments in Zimbabwe dollars how well that worked out for them. Keep your eye on Greece if you want a preview of coming attractions, they are much farther along the path than we are.

                  Yes, I do get that. But it has nothing to do with Social Security, and everything to do with our monetary system. The only way for the debt to go is up. That's because we borrow every last cent (and more) from the Fed or its member banks. No more debt, no more money. That's a separate issue from whether we can afford to take care of our elderly. That is something we can choose to do or not do.

                  • Yes, I do get that. But it has nothing to do with Social Security, and everything to do with our monetary system.

                    I have read and thought much about that very problem, what to do about it and how to fix our monetary system. The basic problem, as I see it, is that in theory a centralized fiat currency system, combined with fractional reserve banking, can be the most efficient one provided that it's properly managed and run. However, as we both know humans are very bad at running these systems and there are many chances for corruption, politics and fraud to reduce the efficiency of the system and inject unfairness. Indee

          • The only way anyone could believe Obama has been tight on spending is if they are manipulating statistics to try to make it look so. For example, when Obama counted 10 years of revenue against 5 years of spending for Obama care, and claimed it would reduce the deficit.

            And Bush did the exact same thing when he tried to claim that he was fiscally conservative. Of course, in reality, as you mention, the Obama high-spending isn't entirely his fault (why are you only counting discretionary spending? 'Discretio
            • Um. Right.

              Have you looked at a chart of JUST the bush tax cuts? And where the country would have been without them?

              The national debt would have been reduced to a point where some additional temporary tightening of belts in some areas, starting of new interstate highway build & repair projects, plus the government buying the bad mortgages would have mostly halted the recession in its tracks and gotten a lot of people out of trouble.

              Did you even realize that your third biggest budget item is the interest

              • Obama could have vetoed those tax cuts. They're his problem too, now.

                I don't know much about Canadian politics, but Bush was smart enough to cut taxes of everyone. Now cancelling the tax cuts is unpopular, enough so that even Obama didn't dare do it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>Obama is anti-war, he is getting us out of Iraq and Afghanistan as gracefully as possible.

        "If our troops are not out of Iraq and Afghanistan by the time I take office, I will bring them home my first year. You can bank on it!" - Candidate Obama. So that would be the end of 2009.

        Iraq actually ended two years after the promised date, and only because of a treaty that Dubya Bush had already signed. Meanwhile Obama tried to negotiate an extension to the war to keep troops over there, but the Iraq

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          So I search for "I will bring them home my first year. You can bank on it" [google.com]. And I find one result from Google. Your post. One result from Google doesn't happen a whole lot. Congratulations on putting that unique sequence of words on the Internet for the first time. You would think for something the president says it would show up somewhere. At least a blog. Ok so without the quotes Google has more results. Yours first, then 'What should you ask in an interview', then 'paying off credit cards' and wel
          • I'm so sick of people inventing "quotes" for others. This sort of debunking should go straight to +5.

          • Your Google skills are lacking. Took me 60 seconds to find this [youtube.com]. He didn't say "within a year" he said, "it is the first thing I will do." I'll leave you to decide which is worse.
            • by artor3 (1344997)

              He was referring to the troops in Iraq during that speech. If you hadn't found a version that had been selectively edited by a YouTube user named "PresidentChimp", you might know that.

              He was consistent through his campaign that he opposed the Iraq War and supported the Afghanistan War. You might disagree with that stance, but don't lie about what he said.

              • So, Mr Artor3, or Ms if that's who you happen to be, let's see if you can be intellectually honest about any topic.

                Was removing the troops from Iraq the first thing Obama did, or did it take him much longer?
                • by artor3 (1344997)

                  "First thing" is an idiom. It doesn't mean the literal first thing. I'd have preferred him to have done it even faster, but the majority were out within 18 months of his taking office. Of all the things you could pick to complain about in his presidency, this one seems pretty damn minor.

                  But all of that is irrelevant, because that's not what this entire thread of discussion was over. We were discussing cpu's assertion that Obama said "If our troops are not out of Iraq and Afghanistan by the time I take o

                  • Obama tried to extend the time the troops were in Iraq, he didn't try to get them out faster.

                    I was hoping you'd be intellectually honest, but you failed. You need to attack your own ideas, even more than you attack ideas you don't like.

                    Then your arguments online (and other places) will be much stronger, and your mind will be clearer. Do it.
          • by cpu6502 (1960974)

            >>>So I search for "I will bring them home my first year. You can bank on it" [

            The VIDEO is on that famous video site. What's it called? Tubeyou? Youtuber? Something like that. (DUH... where else would you look for a campaign video except on youtube.) I would give you the link but being at work, I can't search youtube (it's blocked). Just search "Obama bank on it".

        • In addition to the nice AC post, already showing how you're pulling "quotes" completely out of your ass, let me add a few things.

          "Anti-war" means to minimize U.S. involvement in conflicts - not to prevent war around the globe, which is not only impossible, it would bankrupt us to try it. So how many ground troops did he commit to Libya? Zero. How many U.S. casualties? Zero. This was largely a revolution inside the country. And killing a handful of terrorists is what you do to avoid war. We wouldn't have

          • by cpu6502 (1960974)

            No "anti-war" means following our first president's advice not to involve ourselves in other nation's spats. "Rest assured while Europe is at war, we shall remain at peace here in United States." (No that's not an exact quote... I'm quoting from memory.) That president did not involve himself in the ongoing war between Britiain and France.... or any other wars.

            THAT'S the kind of president we need now. That's the kind of president both Bush and Obama claimed they would be, but failed to do because they w

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>So now will you be intellectually honest enough to support Obama now that all your concerns are addressed?

        I'm not voting for either of these two banker/corporate puppets (Romney, Obama). I didn't vote for Bush or Clinton either. I would be an idiot to do so..... are you voting for Obama? Even after you've seen him in action? Wow. I hope he wins reelection, just so the next four years reveal TO YOU how bad he is. Maybe when he starts rounding-up Americans under the NDAA, or signs the CISPA

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        None of your claims are correct:

        Obama is anti-war

        There are at least 4 good reasons to consider this untrue:
        1. Obama didn't really stop the war in Iraq. The reason a lot of the troops left is that the US was honoring a treaty between the Maliki government and the US government under George W Bush. The Obama administration tried to convince the Maliki government to adjust things so the US could stay there longer. There are still about 25,000 US personnel in Iraq, and a US soldier was killed there in February after the suppose

      • Thank you, Obama campaign. It's nice to know you're monitoring Slashdot.

      • Obama is anti-war, he is getting us out of Iraq and Afghanistan as gracefully as possible.

        But he has stepped up the use of special forces and drones. They are used in the types of war the Pentagon doesn't tell you about.

        Obama is pro bill-of-rights. He's signed three laws allowing for better access to firearms (not passed when the GOP was fully in charge under Bush), and unlike Ron Paul, he doesn't think government should be regulating women's wombs.

        While I like his stance on abortion, saying that a man who has arrogated the right to declare you a terrorist and kill you is "pro bill-of-rights" is a stretch.

        Obama is anti deficit spending. He has come out publicly in favor of making multi-millionaires and billionaires pay at least the tax rates of their secretaries and taxing corporations that outsource jobs rather than those that keep jobs in the U.S.

        Presidents come out in favor of a lot of things. I like the noises he is making, but I'll be more impressed when something happens as a result.

        Further, as you will see from this chart [jamiekemmerer.com], the deficit is almost entirely due to things done during Bush's term. And the chart doesn't even point out that the "Economic downturn" was caused by the GOP and conservatives deregulating banks so they could gamble with depositor's money backed by the taxpayer. (Nothing forces a brokerage to take FDIC insurance, but if you do, you shouldn't be able to gamble with other people's money.)

        I agree with your point about the downturn beginning on Bush's watch. The GO

    • by MrMista_B (891430)

      Really?

      Because the actual truth is that spending under Obama is the lowest it's been in 60 years.

      http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/may/23/facebook-posts/viral-facebook-post-says-barack-obama-has-lowest-s/ [politifact.com]

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        Wow you're a dumbass. Obama added almost 6 trillion to the national debt in four years. Even Jackass Bush never accomplished that (he added 2.5 trillion during his first four years, during the dot-com recession). Obama not only broke the record, but almost doubled it! Of course the REAL reason I hate Obama is pretty much identical to why I hated Fucker Bush --- Passage of anti-freedom laws and treating people like cattle as they get poked/prodded by the TSA/VIPR teams.

        I have zero respect for a presiden

        • Wow you're a dumbass. Obama added almost 6 trillion to the national debt in four years.

          You do realize that this does not contradict the OP? Obama could have done as you say and STILL have the lowest spending record of the last 60 years (I'm assuming that is adjusted for inflation otherwise I think it unlikely). All it needs to happen is a huge drop in income from taxes which, with the current economy I would guess is a definite possibility.

          Disclaimer: not American, no clue what or what not Obama has done and I don't really care anyway.

        • You are an idiot. The increase is due almost entirely to additional spending on safety net programs due to Bush recession, and to economic stimulus, which was necessary and which any president would have done: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/29/the-truth-about-federal-spending/ [nytimes.com] . Keep hating, though.

          • by cpu6502 (1960974)

            >>>The increase is due almost entirely to additional spending

            So then we agree. Obama's federal spending went UP. Way up. And stimulus? He didn't need to spend 800 billion on that (and then another stimulus bill for 300 billion). That was as stupid as the 700 billion Bush wasted on TARP. If you want to cut spending, then you cut spending. Clearly Obama has NO intention of cutting spending, and still doesn't, since he submitted a new budget with $1.6 trillion deficit... the largest so far.

            And

    • You know what, I realized I might actually LIKE this tracking software. It will keep them from showing ads to me.
  • $1million and $300k - that's a very small percentage of money out of the estimated $1billion each spend. And what is this digital consulting anyway? Is that what they are paying for facebook ads?
    • by imbusy (1002705)
      Should have read the article more carefully. Yes, that seems to be the cost of their Facebook ads.
    • by relikx (1266746)
      The campaigns have communications staff to be sure but consultants here are the digital specialists from outside firms. A typical contract against the numbers cited here would have a scope of work laid out by project hours to build and implement plans. As far as paid digital media is concerned, neither of those sums of money will take you very far from what these guys plan to do.
  • Start Scubbing (Score:4, Informative)

    by spiffydudex (1458363) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @07:43PM (#40150147)

    For those of us who wish to use social networking and other friendly but intrusive aspects of the web...If you haven't already, you better start scrubbing your visible online information. Reduce your online presence.
    A good place to start viewing your publicly available information is http://www.pipl.com/ [pipl.com]

    From there you can decide whether or not it is acceptable information and take the appropriate measures.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      Unfortunately a lot of the stuff about me (forum posts) is not eraseable. It's there forever. That's why I learned a decade ago to start using fake names when publicly posting..... it looks like I used the net from 1988 to 2002 and then quit. (I wish there was a way to erase all those 90s-era messages.)

      • Yeah, I know what you mean. Overall though, if you can keep most easily identifiable information out of the limelight, the better. For the most part, Names don't bother me too much, its addresses, phone numbers, etc that I try to keep scrubbed. Such is the world of the internet...

    • by bmo (77928)

      Yet you are here on Slashdot, making your opinion publicly known.

      And with the right amount of data mining, your alias here could probably be used to pin you down in meatspace.

      At least I came to terms about it sometime last century on usenet (anyone remember the bitching and moaning about Deja-News and X-no-archive=yes?) and I don't whine about it.

      --
      BMO

    • by bmo (77928)

      With regards to my previous post.

      Disregard the tone. I totally misread what you wrote.

      Need coffee.

      --
      BMO

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @07:43PM (#40150149)

    "A voter who has indicated an interest in a candidate and then views a video on YouTube is likely to see a 15- or 30-second campaign ad, called a pre-roll, pop up. A box will appear after 5 seconds asking if the person wants to continue viewing the ad. Campaigns only pay for ads the viewer watches through to completion."

    I think I've found a way to hurt Romney financially.
    Sweet.

    • So all the ads I see online are actually political campaigns for office? Suddenly, the world is making sense again.
  • in return from their bible thumping ozark supporters?
  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @08:01PM (#40150315)

    I'm definitely not impressed by the efficiency of the Republican campaign. My father, who passed away 3 years ago gets multiple pieces of mail daily from various Republican candidates and fund raising committees.

    Some of these I've responded to stating he is deceased. Doesn't do any good, the begging continues.

  • If they want to spend money to get votes, the should just SPEND MONEY TO GET VOTES! My vote, for whatever, is available to anyone for the right price. Bidding starts at $100 - Obama or Romney, your choice - highest bidder gets the vote. Honestly - just skip the pretense and get down to the brass tacks. I got $20 for my for vote for Ted Stevens the last time Alaska voted for Senators (; Paying people to vote the way you want could to wonders to increase the rather dismal turnout rate (in the U.S.).
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      Isn't selling your vote illegal?

      • Isn't selling your vote illegal?

        So is speeding.

        So what?

        I used to be all concerned with abiding by the law. Then one day I woke up and realized that the law isn't written by people like me. Nor is it written for the benefit of people like me. The law is written by and for the benefit of those who have the ability to meaningfully influence or manipulate the process.

        Once I realized that, I decided "fuck the law" - I'm doing whatever I want that serves my interests and that I feel I can get away with - just like our overlords.

    • that's the whole point of closed secret ballot voting.
      so you can sell your vote - you just don't have to vote like you said you would and nobody can prove otherwise.

      I'm pretty sure they could buy some goodwill from the homeless and the poor though by just going around giving them cash - a lot more than advertising on tv they don't have.

  • by Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @08:13PM (#40150417)
    ...why when I looked up 'Kang and Kodos' I got political advertising from both.
  • Popularity contest? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jmerlin (1010641) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @08:14PM (#40150425)
    Unfortunately, it feels like the vast majority of voters are stuck in their childhood-naivety in believing politics is just unimportant and they should just vote for whoever they "like" the most, turning the presidency into a high-school level popularity contest. At this point, why not just give both candidates an FB page and decide who becomes the next president by whoever has the most likes? This is the type of response massive advertising will bring.

    Why can't we make this type of advertising illegal for public offices. Perhaps instead, a consolidated web-based resource should be constructed where each candidate (including individuals running separately from any political party affiliation, and without bias towards those affiliations) is given the same space to identify themselves and their beliefs, and which consolidates resources on the person, their activities within government (both positive and negative), and any interviews/debate type questions they've answered. Also, perhaps some kind of Q&A type service (like a reddit AMA, except less chaotic), so that people can get more information on the stances of the candidates. I envision something sort-of like the "we the people" petition system except much more candid and less worthless, since it entails asking questions to a candidate at large and having popular questions answered sincerely (rather than deferring to media shills and mouth-taped panelists being the only ones that get to ask questions outside of showing up at a town hall and hoping you get called on to ask a question). Most importantly, these things would be immortalized, really showing which candidates hold true to their responses, giving us an ability to objectively score winning candidates on their performance going forward.

    Then, armed with something like that, where we can actually read up on all the candidates and find ones we align ourselves most with (and more importantly, who appear to be most beneficial to our country), we then head to the court houses to vote. Not this ass-backwards "see a name on TV, go vote for them because he said something you agree with in the commercial" nonsense. Terrible, the current system is.
    • Democracy is a failed political model.

      Voting is a waste of time, esp. given the candidates we get to vote for. One is as bad as the other, there is no "lesser evil."

      A completely new system is required - details of which are too many to post here.
      • Democracy is a failed political model.

        I think Churchill said it better: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others which have been tried.". I agree that democracy - at least in the form we have it in the west - is seriously broken. However I have not seen a better model than democracy - every other form of government gives worse results on average. So we are stuck with democracy until someone has a better idea.

    • Which is why we need a new option: a confidence vote on the government itself.

      You've seen the supreme problem: what if there are dozens of candidates (for any office), but they all suck donkey dick? What if the populace is laughing so hard at the current slate of politicians, and their wanna-be replacements, that they simply don't have the breathe to tell their parties that they want a 'do over' on their offerings? That they are comically that bad? That comedians have used up all of their material for the n

    • How do we all balance out saying that its important to vote at the same time as saying that both candidates are the same?
      Should more time be spent on deciding president, or senator, or governor or mayor?

    • by dabadab (126782)

      Why can't we make this type of advertising illegal for public offices.

      Because you can't outlaw stupidness, that's why.

  • First, background: After being a Republican for many years, I switched over to vote for Obama in '08.

    If the Republicans had any real data mining going on, they'd have no problem finding my reasons for doing so. And yet all the spam I get from them is of the crazy religious fascist variety, and outright lying about easily checked facts. The exact sort of crap that drove me away. "How dare Obama require church-owned organizations to allow their employees to buy abortion-covering healthcare from a third par

    • by lightknight (213164) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:09AM (#40152651) Homepage

      "Both sides have absolutely no idea how to appeal to the average voter." -> Well, duh! It's hard to talk with a silver spoon in your mouth. Plus the only time they speak with the average voter is while they are running an election campaign; and even then, they ask questions like "You are voting for me, right?" and "What do I have to do to get you to contribute to my fund?"

      On a side note, I love how they attempt to fix the difficulties with the Financials industry. Aside from saddling the taxpayer with the bailouts (dumbest move, politically, anywhere, ever), I get to enjoy listening to the cacophony of attempts to regulate or deregulate said industry. We have one party, who wants to blindly remove laws -> "Yes, let us remove the laws which introduced a trade barrier into this market, while we remove the laws which stipulate that selling fraudulent securities to buyers would be punished harshly"; the other party, on the other hand, wants to blindly add laws -> "Yes, let add the law that forbids trading outfits from driving up the price of a stock moments before they put through a client's purchase order, while we add a law that puts the taxpayer on the hook for millions of extremely-risky mortgages." I swear to God, it's like that (spam) scene in Monty Python where no matter what pick off the menu, it has to come with a side order of corruption.

      Me: "So, what I'd like is for you to drop the protectionist policies that have unduly enriched the few while thieving the rest of us; I'd also like to have this thieving / fraud nonsense go away."
      Party of Purple: "Sure. Sure. We'll do all of that, and we'll also include this law which charges people excessive amounts to buy or sell various positions."
      Me: "Umm, no. I want what I asked for, not that extra bit."
      Party of Purple: "Yes, we're giving you what you asked for."
      Me: "But not that 'charging people excessive amounts' bit, right?"
      Party of Purple: "*"
      Me: "Hello? I don't want that positions thing to be a part of this legislation."
      Party of Purple: "But it has to be. That's the only way it will pass!"
      Me: "That's right. I don't want that part to pass into law."
      Party of Purple: "But we already wrote it up with that in there."
      Me: "Then write a new one."
      Party of Purple: "Too late, it already passed into law; we had to make some concessions though, so only the part about taxing people excessively was saved."
      Me: "OMFG!"

      And that is how our Congress works.

  • by tunapez (1161697) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @09:03PM (#40150883)

    Frontline's eight year old documentary called The Persuaders [pbs.org] (specifically chapter 5, though it's all quite interesting) showed the pollsters going door to door, but before knocking they got all your data from Axciom or Lexis so they could tell you EXACTLY what you want to hear. Disingenuous? Nahh, it's just politics.

  • Please. Your political preferences are boring. Let's talk about something of interest to /. readers.

    If you manage a small site or blog that accepts advertising, this is the time to make some cash. For years, small media outlets such as newspapers and TV stations have used the political buying season to get well. Now it's your turn.

    If you design web sites, here's a chance to understand how web advertising really works.

    And if you have privacy concerns, put them aside for a few months to observe just how bad i

  • So they're "mining" social data to target their message, huh?

    What are they using to figure out where to dig for this data? Dowsing rods? Pendulums? Ouija boards? Because every time I go onto YouTube these days, I get these ridiculous anti-Obama adverts that look like they crawled out of Rupert Murdoch's colostomy bag.

  • Well, I'm not a huge fan of either party, but after carefully considering who I would prefer in the Oval Office, I've decided to vote for our current President. So, I raised $600 for the campaign through a "grassroots" fundraising page. Guess what? Now I get a spam email almost every single day with a 1-click instant donation link. I've already told them I'm tapped out and I won't be raising any further funds for them, but I offered to make calls or pay visits to people if they would simply give me a list of people to contact. They can't be bothered to even respond. I took the further step of opting out of all but the most "important" messages, but that hasn't stopped the flood of spam that I get.

    The following email exchange is reflective of the Democrats' spam:

    --
    From: Bill Clinton
    Subject: Meeting you
    Date: May 24, 2012 8:49:09 AM PDT
    To: Andrew Watters
    Reply-To: Rufus Gifford

    Andrew --

    I've been in President Obama's shoes before -- less than six months to go before an election to let you finish what you started. It was tough enough back then, but this election is going to be tougher.

    We're facing a tidal wave of anonymous, unlimited spending. The other side has pledged to throw more than 1 billion dollars into tearing down our president.

    It's unprecedented.

    Fortunately, so is the grassroots organization you're building.

    Pitch in what you can today to strengthen the campaign -- and you'll be automatically entered to join me and President Obama in New York City, with the campaign covering airfare and accommodations.

    By clicking here, your saved credit card will be charged immediately:

    QUICK DONATE: $56

    QUICK DONATE: $35

    QUICK DONATE: $50

    QUICK DONATE: $100

    QUICK DONATE: $250

    Or donate another amount.

    If our opponent succeeds, so much of what we've fought so hard for will be rolled back. Health care reform -- which many presidents, including me, tried to pass and couldn't -- will be gone. Same goes for the opportunity for millions more Americans to afford to go to college, and a growing economy that works for middle-class families.

    Our opponent is actually advertising a more extreme version of the policies that got us in trouble in the first place: policies that will leave us with more debt, weaker regulations on risky investments, and fewer jobs.

    All of that's at stake between now and November, but here's why I'm feeling good about our chances: I know people like you have the President's back.

    And I can't wait to meet you. I hope you'll give it a shot:

    https://donate.barackobama.com/Presidents [barackobama.com]

    Thanks, and good luck,

    Bill Clinton

    --
    From: Andrew Watters
    Subject: Re: Meeting you
    Date: May 24, 2012 12:44:19 PM PDT
    To: Rufus Gifford

    Thanks Mr. President, I actually met you once in Hawaii, and several years back I worked for one of your big time fundraisers, ___________,
    of _________, CA.

    I'm sorry to say that I can't afford to contribute any more money to President Obama's campaign. However, I remain available to assist in the
    President's fundraising efforts in some capacity, as indicated in my prior emails including the one attaching my resume. What would be great is
    simply a list of people in my area whom I could call or drop in on.

    Thank you for your consideration sir.

    Andrew Watters
    -

    No response, despite name-dropping a well-known powerhouse fundraiser who has many pictures of himself with President Clinton from the 1992 campaign, held a fundraiser with candidate Edwards in 2004 at his home, was on the boat with candidate Kerry in the 2004 campaign, etc. In addition to noting that yes, I have actually met Bill Clinton. Despite this, I got another spam email a few days later, a

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