Election 2014  
comments_image Comments

Religious Right's Ralph Reed Field-Tests Plan for Beating Obama

Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition, "a 21st-century version of the Christian Coalition on steroids," is leading the effort.

Continued from previous page


So, it was hardly surprising that Reed took up the anti-recall line in his brief conversation with me after his strategy session.

"I was on the ground in Wisconsin a little bit but I wouldn't claim to be an expert on it -- but there were folks who were on the ground who told me that at a certain point, the people of Wisconsin had just had it up to here," Reed said. "They just wanted it to end. It was like, well, when does this end? The guy won an election, you're trying to negate an election, you're trying to recall everybody, and that's what elections are for. So I think that helped us on the margin..."

The other advantage Reed appears to have had in Wisconsin was technology. Faith and Freedom Coalition, he said, sent some quarter of a million text message over the course of the recall campaign. During his "Keys to Victory" strategy session, Reed urged audience members to attend a conference session called "Champion the Vote" that would address the cell-phone-based marketing techniques used by FFC during the recall campaign, and he talked up the role played by LSN Mobile.

Tech Racket

At the "Champion the Vote" panel, Scott Foernsler, described as the chief revenue officer of LSN Mobile, was joined by Rick Furr, described as co-founder and president, of the Mobile Sports Group, along with political consultant Adam Jones and FFC Florida coordinator Brett Doster. Billy Kirkland, the FFC national field director, served as moderator.

Foernsler presented himself as an expert in micro-targeting, the marketing technology that allows users to serve up advertisements on Internet-based platforms customized to whomever is viewing. For instance, when you go to a Web site that is festooned with ads from places where you happen to shop -- or whose Web sites you've recently browsed -- you've been micro-targeted. Another viewer looking at the same Web site will not see the same ads.

The New York Times describes political micro-targeting this way:

In the last few years, companies that collect data on how consumers behave both online and off and what charitable donations they make have combined that vast store of information with voter registration records.

As a result, microtargeting allows campaigns to put specific messages in front of specific voters — something that has increased in sophistication with the large buckets of data available to political consultants.

Foernsler told his FFC audience that the streams of data now available to digital advertisers allow political geeks like him to profile individual voters in much greater detail than was possible before. Where a voter profile developed by traditional means might be based on the answers to a series of 10 or so questions, micro-targeters build databases of voters that answer as many as 65 questions, right down to the kind of vehicle a target drives.

The digital possibilities also allow for internal polling based on much larger samples of voters, Foernsler said. Traditional models might work from a sample of, say, 1,000 voters, but today's technologies make feasible polling that works with a sample five times as large.

On its Web site, LSN touts its prowess at a particular type of mobile advertising that is pegged to local news sites through a proprietary app that, in a May 2011 press release, LSN says has been downloaded by 5 million smart-phone users. "That means one in every 60 U.S. households has accessed the app to glean local content," reads the release."

It's not hard to see where that kind of technology, combined with micro-targeting marketing strategies, could be very useful in upping turnout.