Like Bob Marley or Daft Punk? Political operators think you’re likely to support a Democratic candidate. Prefer Dolly Parton or Yanni? Politicians think you’re more likely to vote Republican.
Darren Samuelsohn in Politico reports that in the last election cycle, more than 400 campaigns used such information to buy ads on Pandora targeting likely supporters.
Data mining has become a critical tool in political campaigns, which will mine public records and personal information such as Facebook feeds to target voters. Samuelsohn cites some specifics on how the data can be used. In a recent Republican primary, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham targeted people who had shopped for a Lincoln, preferred Michelob, and had recently bought golf clubs or cured hams. And for his reelection campaign, Connecticut Democratic governor Dan Malloy targeted people who bought recycled toilet paper or inspirational books or who visit casinos and take cruise vacations.
And perhaps you’ve decided on a candidate but haven’t gotten around to voting. Your preferred candidate will mine local databases and send you lists of neighbors who have voted early or by absentee ballot to try to shame you into going to the polls.
This mining has raised concerns among privacy activists, Samuelsohn writes, but elected officials—including privacy advocate senators Rand Paul and Ron Wyden—are unwilling to impose restrictions on politicians.
Samuelsohn quotes Ira Rubinstein, a senior fellow at the New York University School of Law, as saying, “This whole issue awaits a really good scandal before it becomes a matter of public debate.”