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How Democrats Unlocked Karl Rove's Secrets and Propelled Obama to Victory

The new book, "The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns" explains how studying Rove's methods helped Democrats win in 2008.

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But McAuliffe was ready for the fight. The only path McAuliffe saw to hard-money parity ran through cycles of prospecting new donors, in the mail and online. To accomplish that on the scale he believed crucial, Democrats needed the list of 100 million new names, sortable by party registration or voting behavior, that would fill a national voter file. McAuliffe proposed a deal to the state chairs, that the DNC would effectively borrow their files, help clean them up, add new data like donor information and commercially available phone numbers, and then return them for the state party’s use.

The so-called datamart that McAuliffe helped to assemble was riddled with errors, and many state-level campaigns did not even know how to get their software to properly handle the information that was returned to them. But a roster of more than 150 million new targets was a great gift for the DNC’s fund-raising operation, just as liberals were getting energized. Merely by having built a website that could process new contributions online, they had begun to compete.

Copyright © 2012 by Sasha Issenberg. From the book “ THE VICTORY LAB: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns” by Sasha Issenberg, published by Crown, a division of Random House, Inc. Reprinted with permission.


Sasha Issenberg is the author "The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns" and "The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy."

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