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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?
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  • 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.
  • 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!

  • 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!

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:17PM (#47231021) Journal

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

    Only half true. They didn't give a flying fudge until a Democrat was in office, then it became a "big gov't conspiracy". I don't think a single Republican representative voted against the Patriot Act. (To be fair, Dems also put up very little resistance.)

  • by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:20PM (#47231059)

    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?

  • 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. []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:21PM (#47231089)

    Yeah. Thanks to Citizens United Cantor was able to outspend Brat 26:1 and keep his seat.


  • 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 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?)
  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:25PM (#47231129)

    But it is OK for unions to do so...right...

  • by myth24601 ( 893486 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:28PM (#47231155)

    Is it possible that the average GOP voter doesn't like illegal immigration from a fairness perspective?

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

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

  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:29PM (#47231171) Journal

    1) You're full of crap, because BOTH parties don't like anyone who isn't a lobbyist or fundraising donor.

    2) This is a dangerous precedent, no matter who does it or they target - I get enough political spam as it is. Last thing I need is for a bunch of politically-motivated ideologues to harass me in a targeted way** because they think I might be a useful-but-unwitting pawn in their efforts. If you think this will stop with some party faction looking for like-minded people, you're deluded. Next they'll reach out to independents and no-party types, and possibly even further out.

    3) As a result of 2: Fuck that, and fuck them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:34PM (#47231215)

    "The hostility towards immigration is"

    There is NO HOSTILITY TOWARDS IMMIGRATION. There is however hostility towards lawbreakers and those who ignore our constitution and borders.

    Why is this simple fact apprently impossible for you people to understand?

    How about this. I am coming over to your apartment this evening to eat your food, fuck your wife and children and then shit all over your floor and if you don't like it you can go fuck yourself. FUCK YOU if you are hostile to having GUESTS IN YOUR HOUSE.

    Get it?

  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:35PM (#47231219)
    Clearly, you can extrapolate from a single data point.

    For every Cantor that deservingly got tossed out, there are many that managed to outspend and keep their seats.

    What more concerning is that unlimited money could buy unlimited influence. When average candidate has to spend this kind of crazy money to get elected, then donors are in position to dictate policy. Damage of Citizen's United is not money flowing into politics, but giving more opportunities for money to corrupt politics. Why create a situation where politician has to make a choice between voting in the best interest of constituents and keeping re-election funding?
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:36PM (#47231229)

    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 lots of immigrants means economic growth, which may be true, but they never seem to get around to the costs associated with bulk-importing lots of low-wage labor which won't be buying Obamacare policies.

    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?

  • by myth24601 ( 893486 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:43PM (#47231287)

    Cantor's case shows that you still have to get people to vote for you, you can't simply buy a seat.

  • 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 Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:55PM (#47231377) Journal

    Your Average Democrat Voter sees more Democrat votes coming across the border, so they love the illegal immigrants. Crying "hate" is so much easier to gain votes than actually doing something. Don't get me wrong, both the DNC and the RNC love illegal immigrants, but for different reasons.

    However, the disenfranchising of African Americans by creating another protected political class is going to hurt the DNC in the long run. The new influx of workers that will compete for low paying jobs is really going to hurt the African American community pretty hard. If I were African American, I'd be pissed off at the wage suppression and the extraordinary unemployment in my community and the complete and utter failure of either of the two big parties to address this and other related issues.

    We have had several rounds of "Comprehensive Immigration reform" in the past, it hasn't solved anything, and the people keep coming, often under the impression (thanks Obama) that if they can get here, they can stay! Here's an idea, lets solve problems for AMERICAN citizens before we try to fix those that are breaking the law to come here.

    And why the Liberal World savers allow the unmitigated pollution of the Deserts in the southwest, without protest, is mind numbing. The amount of garbage collecting in environmentally sensitive areas due to Illegal Immigration is atrocious. Yet the liberal world savers would rather protest Keystone Pipeline.

    Personally, I don't know why ANYONE, liberal or conservative, (D) or (R) would support "immigration reform", as it is nothing but a scam to help the big businesses suppress wages, and create a new DNC voting block.

    Oh wait, it all makes perfect sense now!

  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:56PM (#47231387) Homepage Journal

    Is it possible that the average GOP voter doesn't like illegal immigration from a fairness perspective?

    No, that seems quite impossible.

    Fairness would mean that everyone get to go to the same schools and have the same healthcare, no matter how rich your parents are or where they were born. I cannot see how a republican would embrace that.

  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @01:57PM (#47231405)

    Is it possible that the average GOP voter doesn't like illegal immigration from a fairness perspective?

    I really struggle with this one. I'm sympathetic to lots of the arguments as to why illegal immigration is indefensible.

    But many of those arguments seem to also argue for the native Americans' descendents getting back all of the land their ancestors held (modulo any tribe-to-tribe land grabs we can figure out historically), and that we should return to British rule.

    The only arguments I'm left with are "it's our damn land now, and stop invading it or we'll kill you.". But that's nothing like a morally principled argument. And it does nothing to address the other issues I mentioned above regarding native Americans and the British.

  • 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 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 Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2014 @02:14PM (#47231571)

    I am coming over to your house to babysit your kids, clean your house, and do your yardwork while you get to deny me any normal workplace protections or actually submit to the gov. the cash you withold from my less than minimum wages


  • by Curunir_wolf ( 588405 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @02:16PM (#47231601) Homepage Journal

    What more concerning is that unlimited money could buy unlimited influence.

    Clearly false, not only in the sense that there is no such thing as "unlimited money", but that there is also a hard limit to the amount of influence money can buy, no matter how much funds you spend to trying it.

    The fact is, regardless of what you believe, grassroots can beat money every time. I have other examples, but the Cantor one is excellent. I was involved with that, and we actually started the effort to oust Cantor five years ago. We presented Cantor some minor challenges along the way (which at least forced him to spend some of his considerable war chest on campaign efforts), but we never really had a good candidate until Brat came along. We had laid the groundwork at the grassroots level already. The platform Brat ran on was easy: He ran on the points in the Republican Party Creed, and he only needed to show how Cantor failed to follow it, point-by-point.

    When average candidate has to spend this kind of crazy money to get elected, then donors are in position to dictate policy.

    Candidates are supposed to represent their constituents, including the donors. In Brat's case, ALL of his money (the little of it he had) came from small donors and individuals. He should be accountable to them. In Cantor's case, he was beholden not to money from his district, but from large, national PACs, corporate donors, etc. It cost him his seat, and the money could not save him.

    Why create a situation where politician has to make a choice between voting in the best interest of constituents and keeping re-election funding?

    The only way to do that is to elect corrupt politicians. In fact, politicians never have to make that choice, because it's called bribery, quid-pro-quo, and corruption, and it's 100% illegal. As we have shown, many more times than this, the money does not help if you don't have support of the people. Buy all the votes you want, we'll make more.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2014 @02:23PM (#47231663)

    Is it possible that the average GOP voter doesn't like illegal immigration from a fairness perspective?

    No, that seems quite impossible.

    Fairness would mean that everyone get to go to the same schools and have the same healthcare, no matter how rich your parents are or where they were born. I cannot see how a republican would embrace that.

    That's merely YOUR definition of fairness.

    And "go to the same schools and have the same healthcare"? Nice to know you'd shut down the private school Barack Obama sends his kids to, and the expensive medical treatments rich Hollywood liberals get for themselves, including plastic surgery.

    What about home schooling? I guess you'd make that illegal, too.

    And schools for gifted kids? Gotta close those, too. Can't let the smart kids know they're smarter, can we? They might be able to get ahead in life. The HORROR!

    Specialized kid's cancer centers? Close 'em down since not everyone can get in them immediately when necessary because they have limited resources. Sorry, ma'am, your 6-year-old doesn't deserve specialized care because that would be "unfair".

    Good God you're a retard.

  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @02:33PM (#47231767) Journal

    > something that might shed light on the mysteries of the atom/universe/big bang.

    Something like the Super Collider? That would be the archetypal Republican, Ronald Reagan. The space station? Reagan again. Increased funding for the national science foundation? Reagan. Research tax credits? Reagan.

    Republicans oppose "give half a billion of taxpayer money to your largest campaign bundler's failing solar company", but that's not really research. That's more accurately termed a "slush fund".

    Yes, republican presidents have their own slush funds. This president's slush fund just happens to be titled "alternative energy fund", but it has nothing to do with science.

  • by AdamHaun ( 43173 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @02:55PM (#47231973) Journal

    There is NO HOSTILITY TOWARDS IMMIGRATION. There is however hostility towards lawbreakers and those who ignore our constitution and borders.

    Why is this simple fact apprently impossible for you people to understand?

    Because there have been large waves of immigration many times in our country's history, and each time produces the same backlash with the same rhetoric. It doesn't matter whether the immigration is legal, what matters is that different kinds of people are moving into "your" neighborhood and changing it. You can see this right now in Europe with the backlash against legal immigrants from the Middle East. People don't get that emotional over abstract legal principles without an excuse.

    It's always the same -- they're too poor, they're criminals, they're not learning English, they don't share our values, they don't understand democracy (i.e. they vote for the "wrong" party), they're out-breeding us, they'll destroy America unless we turn them back. Two generations later the immigrants' grandchildren have assimilated and are indistinguishable from the general population. Then the next wave comes along and the whole cycle repeats again. So far it's happened to the Irish, Italians, Germans, Eastern Europeans of all sorts, Chinese, and probably others -- pretty well everyone except the original British colonists, and you know how *they* got all that land...

  • by MillerHighLife21 ( 876240 ) on Friday June 13, 2014 @02:55PM (#47231983) Homepage

    Or think of it this way - besides being born well off, in what way did those kids "work hard enough to earn" a nice school?

    The kids didn't. Their parents worked hard enough to make sure they could put their kids in a nice school. Parents work hard to put their kids in a position to succeed. That's why houses with zoned for better schools are worth more, because the parents buying them are willing to pay more to make sure their kids have access to it.

    Involved parents that care that much also lead to the schools themselves being better by donating to fund raisers, volunteering to help with school events, taking an interest in their kids school work and making sure it's getting done. Having your kids around other kids who care about their education because it's been instilled in them creates a culture of success (and vice versa).

    As a parent, if you're kids are zoned for a school that you don't feel is doing as well you can do one of two things if you want to better enable your children:

    1. You can get involved with the school, school board, organize parents and get the entire community more involved to make the school a better place for kids to succeed.
    2. You can send them to another school where people already are involved.

    The ironic thing here is that the school voucher policy favored by conservatives would actually make it more feasible for people to send their kids to better schools without having to move for zoning reasons. This allows parents to cast a direct vote related to the quality of a school, because if it's bad parents will simply choose to send their kids elsewhere.

  • by stinerman ( 812158 ) <> on Friday June 13, 2014 @08:17PM (#47234029) Homepage

    I will bet one Internet that as soon as a Republican President is put in charge of NSA surveillance those poll numbers will flip overnight. As long as the guy from the other party is doing X, X is bad. When its your bastard doing it, X is suddenly good.

"We shall reach greater and greater platitudes of achievement." -- Richard J. Daley