Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Republicans The Internet Politics GOP Voters To Be Targeted By Data Scientists 422

theodp writes: "We are excited to announce that and Hackers/Founders are joining forces to host the 'DEBUG DC' Growthathon on June 21st & June 22nd," reads the blog over at, the PAC whose Founders and Major Contributors include current and former CEOs from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and LinkedIn. "This is a unique opportunity to push the envelope in online advocacy for immigration reform." The blog entry explains, "The machine of government is wedged, and is in desperate need of debugging. How do we DEBUG DC? Step One: Target critical legislative districts. Step Two: Data mine these districts to find registered voters who are registered Republicans who we think are likely to support immigration reform. Step Three: Growth hack ways to motivate these people to effectively engage their legislators to tell them they want them to call for a vote on immigration reform. Step Four: Measure results. Step Five: Iterate." The Eventbrite invitation for the event includes a call for Data Scientists who are "pissed off about immigration and want to fix it," are "well versed in statistics and data analysis," and can "infer voter sentiment from sparse data." So, how does this jibe with the outrage expressed by the supporters' companies over unauthorized government surveillance?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted. GOP Voters To Be Targeted By Data Scientists

Comments Filter:
  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:08PM (#47230953)
    You average GOP voter strongly values privacy and will not look kindly at this kind of targeted approach.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      You average GOP voter strongly values privacy and will not look kindly at this kind of targeted approach.

      Are these the same GOP voters who voted GW Bush Jr. into office, the self same GW Bush Jr. who got the ball rolling on the now famous NSA warrantless surveillance behemoth?

      • by sinij ( 911942 )
        Yes, the are mostly the same voters.

        In their defense, Bush Jr. didn't run on the platform of increasing surveillance and decreasing government transparency. For the second term he run on a solid platform of FUD and even many non-GOP voters bought into it.

        Further in their defense, TP is a delayed reaction to Bush actions. Sure, it is largely counter-productive, ineffective, lacking concrete goals and so on, but if you are objective you can't claim they are not trying to do something about this.
      • You average GOP voter strongly values privacy and will not look kindly at this kind of targeted approach.

        Are these the same GOP voters who voted GW Bush Jr. into office, the self same GW Bush Jr. who got the ball rolling on the now famous NSA warrantless surveillance behemoth?

        G.W. Bush and Obama are not significantly different in these categories. I'm not saying Bush should be given a free pass, I'm saying both should have been impeached, removed, and perhaps hanged.

    • Only if they recognize that is the case, though. Humans are very quick to believe anything which fits nicely into their established view of the world, or the view they prefer to favor. They need to find the points which resonate. For the GOP, that would mean access to cheap labor, reduced taxes (say, for nanny/personal services), etc.

    • by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:28PM (#47231159) Journal

      Where do you get the idea the average GOP voter "strongly values privacy?" These are generally the same people who are A-OK with NSA surveillance because it's about catchin' terrrist evil-doers and if you ain't got nuthin' to hide you ain't got nuthin' ta fear.

      • Where do you get the idea the average GOP voter "strongly values privacy?" These are generally the same people who are A-OK with NSA surveillance because it's about catchin' terrrist evil-doers and if you ain't got nuthin' to hide you ain't got nuthin' ta fear.

        You're both painting with broad brushes. And I suspect the data mining about which this article talks would help sort that out.

      • by LordLimecat ( 1103839 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @03:18PM (#47232193)

        These are generally the same people who are A-OK with NSA surveillance because it's about catchin' terrrist evil-doers and if you ain't got nuthin' to hide you ain't got nuthin' ta fear.

        Thats actually not true at all [] (democrats actually approve of the NSA spying more than republicans), but at least you were able to continue the fine slashdot tradition of baseless, unsubstantiated strawmen.

    • You average GOP voter strongly values privacy and will not look kindly at this kind of targeted approach.

      Your average [either party] voter is already mined and targeted at _every_ election, whether they know/like it or not. And somehow there hasn't been a revolt. The difference in this particular effort is really just the story's presence on Slashdot.

    • You average GOP voter strongly values privacy

      In my experience the average GOP voter only cares about their own privacy, they actively support the invasion of everyone elses privacy and fully support the NSA spy apparatus without question. On the other hand there is a VERY small fraction of the GOP (Rand Paul is one) that is against this, but they are heavily ridiculed by the main party for this stance.

      Seriously, are all you blind GOP supporters that blind to what the rest of the party believes and is in fac

      • Seriously, are all you blind GOP supporters that blind to what the rest of the party believes and is in fact their official party stance?

        I'm pretty sure that answer is self evident even here on Slashdot.

      • by LordLimecat ( 1103839 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @03:25PM (#47232241)

        Is your experienced backed by a Gallup poll []?

        To pull some statistics out of it....

        Approve.... Disapprove:
        R- 32% .... 63%
        D- 49% .... 40%
        Avg- 37%...53%

        It gets better; when they asked whether people approved of Snowden's leak, 49% of Republicans thought it was right, vs 39% of Democrats. And really, this fits in line with the traditional Republican fear of large, expansive government

        Seriously, are all you blind GOP supporters that blind to what the rest of the party believes and is in fact their official party stance?

        Seriously, are you that blind that you form your opinions based on internet echo chambers rather actual fact?

    • Not just the GOP voter. What about your average American citizen working in the IT industry? This is a blatant slap in the face in that what they really want are H1Bs for cheap labor. Backfire? Oh yeah, with both left and right barrels!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:10PM (#47230967)

    That's right Republican voters! You too can help Microsoft and Google and Yahoo get immigration laws "reformed" so that we can stop this silly H1-B dance and REALLY start sucking up every warm body from India and the Philippines and anywhere else that thinks $14,000 a year is a hell of a lot of money!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by halivar ( 535827 )

      Wanting a high-paying job is racist and anti-diversity. You should eagerly want to give up your job to a lower-paid foreigner. We'll tell you who to vote for to make sure that happens!

  • 7. ???
    8. Profit!

  • Why don't these guys simply pay attention to a scientific poll that was already run in Eric Cantor's district to see how successful this idea is!


    First time in history that Majority leader of the House has lost his seat- all because he supported some form of immigration reform.

    That worked well for him didn't it.

    • That wasn't the only reason Cantor was defeated. I voted for Brat and immigration never even crossed my mind. However much promise he had in the beginning, Cantor had been lost to DC politics. He was out of touch with his district. On the morning of the primaries he was in a coffee shop in DC.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Same here, I voted for Brat and it had nothing do with either candidates stance on immigration. It had to do with Cantor no longer representing the people of his district. He didn't send a rep to my polling place. If you read or heard the smear campaign he ran against Brat is was shameless lies. I could no longer stand a man so full of lies that he thought he could lie to me about a man who lived and worked in my area and thought I wouldn't notice. I know politicians lie but we should not stand for it.

      • This is what I've heard as well. 30% approval rating throughout the district. He failed to keep up his end of the bargain as a Representative, which is to, you know, actually represent the interests and needs of the district. When two thirds of your constituents hate your guts, it's hard to win any kind of election. You can do it with one third hating your guts, one third liking you even just slightly, and the remaining folks barely knowing your name. But when an overwhelming majority of voters absolute
  • Wrong and wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tyggna ( 1405643 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:20PM (#47231061)
    Your average GOP voter is the same as your average democrat voter, with different parents and geography. I have never, personally, met more than one republican that didn't like science, and she was a nut-job. Also, republican or democrat is not the dividing line for individual privacy. That's a non-partisan issue (unless you're libertarian, in which case it's your quest in life to remove all privacy violations). I was skeptical, at first, about targeted approaches generated from big-data problems. Then I got on google fiber. There were some HUGE privacy concerns there, since they basically keep a tcpdump (minus packet contents) of all your internet history as part of your google-fiber profile for 3 days. Before that, they just knew that I was an adult male. After being on google fiber, all my internet ads changed from gaming and porno to high end computer hardware and data center products. As it turns out, I greatly prefer seeing computer hardware ads (particularly when I'm at work). Targeted approaches bred from privacy violations aren't necessarily a bad thing, it's what people do with them that's the problem. Technologies can be used effectively to make the world a better place, or abused to make it worse, it doesn't mean the technology is inherently evil. I don't think democrats would have problem being data-mined and invited to public events surrounding global warming policy, and I doubt these GOP voters will care that they were selected by a computer to be invited to take part in something that they're interested in.
  • the truth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brennz ( 715237 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:21PM (#47231081)
    This is really an effort by big multinationals to suppress tech job wages in the US by keeping up the H1B visa racket, and all the associated visa rackets. []
  • You can probably make a lot of arguments that immigration is broken in many ways but I don't see how this automatically leads to the conclusion that the fixes for what's broken are in agreement, or, even necessarily agreement on what's broken.

    On some level this feels a little like astroturfing for more H1Bs if so many big companies are behind it, maybe with a little feel-good "reform" directed at some of the hardships experienced by run-of-the-mill illegals from Latin America.

  • Advocacy is not a scientist's job. Scientists are to describe or model reality as best they can, not attempt to change it. Changing things with technology is "engineering", and changing people's opinions with technology is "social engineering".

    Scientists should be careful not to taint their reputation for objective analysis.

  • by NaCh0 ( 6124 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:22PM (#47231109)

    While Republican voters might appear to be for immigration reform by the polls, their idea of reform is vastly different than what these people are proposing.

    They first want a secure border... meaning no flood of new illegals, drugs, gangs, etc.

    They clearly feel lied to by democrats saying the border is the most secure ever. Just look at the 50,000 children who have just crossed since January. If you can't stop children, how do you plan on stopping the "bad guys"?

    Republicans would also support more work visas -- both skilled and unskilled. They don't care about having more immigrants here. They want an orderly process which no administration has been able to provide.

    Obama's blanket amnesty isn't too popular but most Republicans would be up for the debate if they were confident the problem wouldn't keep compounding itself with new illegals.

    • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @02:08PM (#47231507)

      You can't secure the border. It's a mythical concept that the party is selling you so you don't pay attention to the real way to shut down illegal immigration. The entire system is driven by the employment they can gain if they can get into this country. Without that employment opportunity very few would come and those that did would leave shortly after they couldn't find a job.

      The only way to stop illegal immigration is to go after the employment. And that means targeting the businesses that hire them. Most of the these businesses are very well connected politically. I know several, they are all die hard republicans that support stopping illegal immigration as long as you don't go after THEM. We could stop immigration tomorrow by actually implementing, checking and enforcing some sort of national ID or cracking down heavily on fraudulent use of SSN's. But that would mean shutting down the cheap labor and there are entrenched interests that don't want the immigration to stop and don't want it to be legal. These entrenched interests have run a very successful campaign of convincing people like you that the solution is to build the Berlin wall on the Mexican border. Well here's a wake up call for you, people routinely crossed the Berlin wall and they shot people that tried.

      The only way to stop illegal immigration is to take away the jobs. If you want to end illegal immigration and not maintain the status quo support real employer penalties and force the SSA to actually validate every SSN used for employment is being used by it's owner (this is damn near trivial).

  • by sideslash ( 1865434 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:22PM (#47231111)
    As a habitually Republican leaning voter and a geek myself, I find this insulting. Of course being treated as an optimization problem for data analysts is something that happens all the time in commerce and advertising. But I am turned off by multiple disingenuous elements here. Let's name a few:

    1. It isn't about "immigration reform", it's about amnesty. The Democrat agenda will do nothing to reduce illegal immigration, but rather increase it.
    2. Bringing in lots of new workers is a direct cause of lower wages and more job competition and unemployment in the USA.
    3. Really rich, corporate Republicans want more labor because it benefits them fiscally.
    4. Lots of Democrats in general want more immigrants because it strengthens the power of the government and the welfare state, and shifts voting demographics favorably for them (e.g. when they turn Texas blue, they win the presidency for the foreseeable future).
    5. So the bottom line is that when they approach a presumably low information Republican voter, they will have to lie their little tails off about their agenda to get him/her to go along with their so-called "immigration reform".

    (Do I sound a little mad?)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by swb ( 14022 )

      This is why they have the groovy, left-leaning longhair on the web page.

      They want to make this into a warm-and-fuzzy progressive issue on how cruel our current immigration system is on children, families and their Chihuahuas, as well as how "stupid" it is because all the super-smart PhDs in nuclear physics who can't get a green card but reallyreally want to come help us advance our build-out of next-generation nuclear power.

      Most economists feed into the rich, corporate Republican arguments by saying that l

      • by digsbo ( 1292334 )

        What surprises me more than anything else is the total silence by Black congressional leadership on "immigration reform" -- given that the low levels of educational attainment and extremely high levels of unemployment in the black community, aren't they the really big losers in the immigration reform game?

        You think for a second that black congressional leadership has the well being of their constituents at heart any more than any other congressional leadership group? You have got to be joking. The best thing for the leftist political leaders is an entrenched welfare class. The more unemployment, the more welfare, the more socialized services, the more votes from the people using those services.

  • by Darlok ( 131116 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:24PM (#47231123)

    So while I'm not a tin-foil-hat wearing conspiracy theorist, I do note amongst the young technorati something of a double-standard. Surveillance, big data and privacy violations are bad when they're used to infringe social rights, but GOOD when they're used to attack people perceived as infringing social rights... C'est la vie.

    But more to the point, single-issue activists ALWAYS misunderstand the voting habits of multi-issue voters. Particularly Republicans, who are not just straight-up conservatives as they are often portrayed, but often socially liberal _fiscal_ conservatives who choose not to vote based on social policy. Turning multi-issue swing voters into single-issue activists isn't a straight-forward process, even if you identify who they are.

    Finally, this kind of effort makes the assumption that such voters are simply awaiting the right contact or motivation to write their congressperson and demand action. Whereas, in reality, while activists often view the disengaged as "against the cause", the reality is, in most instances, such voters just don't care about that cause.

    • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:56PM (#47231395) Journal
      True fiscal conservatism is often at odds with social conservatism. True fiscal conservatism isn't a bad thing - I think many Dems would actually lean more toward a purely fiscally based Republican party, but the social issues keep everyone split into their respective camps despite the similarities in fiscal policy. For example, a true free market conservative has no problem with abortion clinics. They provide a service for which there is a demand. No federal dollars are permitted to go to abortion services, although the clinics also provide everything from well baby services to OB/GYN services in rural areas that require some community funding to fully support (since it's not profitable to operate a small clinic in the middle of nowhere that only half the population + children will use.) Still, it makes monetary sense to fund those clinics at nominal levels rather than have pregnant women dying because they were unaware of ectopic pregnancies, so again, it's government money well spent. A social conservative looks at the clinic though and sees a horrible infestation of sin upon the world and has the urge to bomb it.

      Another example would be the mandatory drug testing put in place in Florida for food stamp benefits. After the pilot program in which less than 2% of those tested failed the drug test and were denied benefits, it became clear that the state was losing money and the program should have been halted. (I believe it cost them $100,000 more than they saved to test everyone, even charging some people a fee for the test.) A business minded fiscal conservative would have killed the program because it cost more than it saved. A social conservative would freak out because The Undeserving could get free food if the program was cancelled.

      It's this divide in thought between the two wings of the party that drives the fiscally conservative Democrats crazy. They might be willing to compromise with the Republican fiscal wing on some things, but the social wings of either party cannot compromise because they each think the other is Satan.
      • I think that your comments describe a larger fissure within the Republican party. With respect to social conservatives and libertarian conservatives, there just isn't as much common ground as there needs to be in order to form a political party from both groups.

        By way of example, is forbidding same-sex marriage a pro-individual freedom, small-government value? No, it is not. Are Second Amendment rights an Evangelical Christian value? No, they are not. But we libertarians are supposed to clam up about certai

  • Just from the summary, I will infer that this entire discussion will be inferences made with sparse data.

  • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:28PM (#47231157) Homepage

    Second paragraph on the page:

    Our outdated immigration system does not meet Americaâ(TM)s workforce needs in a global economy. We have a system that tells talented immigrants that we don't welcome their contributions. It is a system that cannot keep the United States competitive in a global economy. The time is now for Congress to act on meaningful immigration reform that boosts the American economy and does right by American families.

    This is not about amnesty for illegals, this is about H1B expansion.

    • It is about Illegals, in the guise of H1B Expansion. It is a bait and switch con game, and unless you've paid attention to the last couple "immigration reform" acts, you'll actually miss the point. DNC wants new voters, RNC wants suppressed wages, and they are getting together to divide the spoils while the rest of America rots.

  • by fey000 ( 1374173 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:29PM (#47231167)

    And then presumably the scientists get replaced by cheaper H1B "scientists"?

  • good ol' voter pattern research to hound the rascals out. everybody does it these days, not just the parties.

  • Surveillance by government is scary because the power and resources of the government. Data collection by large private corporations is scary because these corporations have privacy rights and their profit motive to get you every which way and how. Data collection of underfunded powerless advocacy group should not be compared to the first two.
  • This sounds like an interesting method by which individual problems, such as immigration reform, might be solved, but we must recognize that the root cause of disfunction in DC today is money; that bribery in US politics is now legal and that the politicians see it as the norm. As a result, they -- particularly those in the federal government -- almost never care about what their constituents think: in 94-95% of all cases all they have to do is raise more money than their political opponents so that they can outspend them all in every next election.

    When seen in this light, it becomes clear that issues such as immigration reform are not going to be solved unless those who fund our politicians also agree. Those donors are big corporations and very rich people, and in this case they seem to think that immigration reform will likely lead to higher wages and thus less profit, so they will tell the politicians to vote aginst any such reform or else their money will diverted to the next politician in line who will vote against it. The politicians think they have no choice in the matter, but that's also how they got elected in the first place (by doing what their donors told them to do).

    So, anyone who thinks that the politicians they vote for should be acting primarily in the interests of their constituents, instead of the rich and powerful, should realize that we first all need to act together to get money our of politics. And it can be done! [] After that DC will once again start to get things done.

    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      The solution is to vote out your incumbent. Period. It's the only way to get Congress to listen to us.
  • Scumbags (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:50PM (#47231327)
    A transparently cynical ploy to increase their pipeline of Asian / Indian H1B visa slave labor. DIAF.
  • by BobandMax ( 95054 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @02:00PM (#47231435)
    These folks simply do not understand that the underlying goal is to drive U.S. wages to third world levels by introducing large labor surpluses. Not just unskilled/low skill labor, either. They want to greatly expand work visas for skilled and highly skilled workers to reduce labor costs and increase profits. Anyone who does not understand this needs to take some J.C. basic Economics courses. And, for those who talk about expanding the economy to accommodate millions of new workers; how's that working for you?
    • by TheSync ( 5291 )

      These folks simply do not understand that the underlying goal is to drive U.S. wages to third world levels by introducing large labor surpluses.

      It is unlikely that any surplus of labor would lead employers to pay significantly less than the productivity of a worker, especially in sectors such as computer programming where barriers to entry are low and new firms can rapidly form.

      It is possible that labor surpluses could actually lower the prices of goods and services in general, which can benefit consumers.

  • Republicans already support immigration reform: []

    For some reason the media, the left and even republican leadership think immigration reform requires amnesty. You'll never get the law and order republican types to agree that those who broke the law should benefit where those who obeyed the law get stuck in south America. It's just not going to happen. Leave amnesty off the table and immigration reform would pass like grease lighting.

Garbage In -- Gospel Out.