the complex technologies of contemporary campaigns, “trust indices,” “psychodemographics,” and a host of other buzz words intended to distinguish the “new” politics from whatever preceded it. Yet the basic tools of contact with voters phone, mail, door-to-door precinct work, and the mass communication media of press, radio, and television have all been in use politically for the past 30 years. So what’s new? In a nutshell, it is the enhanced abilities of public probe deeper into the collective American mind and the lightning-fast capabilities of computers to process and disseminate vast amounts of information. In turn, such speed and efficiency enables the pollsters to dissect and cross-tabulate the information in literally thousands of different, telling and, heretofore, unavailable ways. Not too many years ago, Uncle Osidar’s campaign for county office might have required 25 friends and neighbors -volunteering four hours per night for two _weeks or more simply to look up the numbers of everyone with telephones in a county of 100,000 people. Today, the campaign director merely places an order with one of several “list brokers for the computer tapes containing those telephone numbers. With but a single additional run through the computer, the contents of those phone tapes are “matched/merged” with the appropriate names from the voter registration computer tapes available from the state elections office. For a county the size of Uncle Oscar’s, from phone order to delivery would be a 48-hour proposition at most. As long ago as Abraham Lincoln’s early days in public life, the need for such lists was sufficiently compelling for him to urge his supporters to “Organize the whole state . . . divide the county into small districts . . . make a perfect list of voters and ascertain with certainty for whom they will vote . . . and on electo the polls.” The perfect list of voters has been called by one respected campaign writer/analyst the “Holy Grail” of electoral politics. Similar to most products and services offered by the burgeoning campaign industry, the mark-up or profit margin on such lists is significant. Consequently, companies with such names as the Texas File, The Campaign Store, The Election Company, Political Communications, Inc., and the Mail Box, are numerous and growing. Bob Lewis, of Campaign Systems, Inc., in Plano, Texas, insists, “We take great care to ensure that our lists are as up-to-date as possible. In fact, we update our lists against the new voterregistration records and telephone subscribers three times a year.” Not limited to just a voter’s name, address, phone number, age, sex and precinct number, such tailored-to-district lists also provide political candidates valuable information such as the party primary election in which the voter last cast a ballot, the types of elections \(local bond issues, rethe voter is most likely to participate and even whether a voter subscribes to the Wall Street Journal, the Texas Observer, or both. Depending upon the size of the list, characteristics provided, cost of compilation and the difficulty of processing the data, a reputable list vendor can command anywhere from $65-85,000 for such statewide listings. Lewis’ Campaign Systems, Inc., has a client selection policy that is nonpartisan and non-ideological \(something However, since his joint work with the national Republican telehone bank consultant, Nancy Brataas, of Minnesota, on the 1978 elections of Clements and Sen. John Tower, his statewide and limited out-of-state clientele has been predominantly Republican. The single Texas-based list broker with a national clientele greater than instate business is the Datatron Corporation with offices in Washington, D.C., Dallas, and Austin. Regarded among consultants, candidates, incumbents, and Democratic party people throughout the country as the “cupbearer nonpareil” of their elusive “Holy Grail,” Datatron’s president, Don Binns, has only recently opened his Austin office to assist the statewide race for land commissioner of his longtime friend, Garry Mauro. Yet, even with all this whiz-bang gadgetry, different candidates for varying offices must conduct a variety of dialogues with distinct and often disparate groups of voters. And the creative use to which these expensive political lists are put is the key. Traditionally, if a candidate’s poll data discovers that Hispanic women over age 55 indicate a strong preference for the candidate’s position on a particular issue . . . say, state regulation of charitable bingo games . . . the campaign will request a list of the names, addresses and phone numbers of that group of voters. Should the campaign desire to limit its contacts to only those 55 years old, plus Hispanic women with a history of frequent voting, ino problema! . . . out comes the list of only those with a record of three or more trips to the polls in various elections. Lists such as these can usually be produced in short order since easily identifiable characteristics such as sex, age, Hispanic surname, and voting histories are included in the voter-registration records maintained by local and state public offices. Once in hand, the campaign has the option of either calling, mailing, or dispatching a precinct worker to personally visit the voter with the candidate’s, “I’m concerned about bingo” message. Most effective of all, albeit costly, is a combination of all three contacts into a series of repetitive and persuasive messages that are “topped-off” with a final call or postcard reminding these bingo issue voters of the election date and the address of their precinct polling place. Such combination contacts have, of late, become standard fare for most political campaigns. Perhaps the political campaign effort that perfected this old “Daley” method \(for Chicago’s late was the 1975 city elections in Austin, when a group of student activists led by Steve Gutow and Mark Perlmutter spearheaded the Coalition for a Progresselected then-30 year old Jeff Friedman as mayor and six out of a slate of seven candidates to the Austin City Council. In that instance, targeted precincts around the city were contacted by the same precinct “coordinator” three and four times personally. The calls and mailings to the voter’s home reinforced the personal visits. The result was the single largest turn out of voters in selected areas of the city since Hubert Humphrey was the Democratic nominee for President in 1968. IN THE EARLY 1970’S, the computer and market research firm reInc.’s direct-mail marketing research developed a means of discovering the underlying structure of social grouping in the U.S. at a neighborhood or small community level. Relying upon the wealth of data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Census, the Claritas Corporation of Rosslyn, Virginia, identified 40 basic types of neighborhoods similar in their social class or affluence, race and ethnicity, age and family composition, urbanization and housing style, patterns of migration and other lifestyle characteristics. Each was designated a Claritas “Cluster” number. Cluster #37, for example, is described as “Educated young business and professionals; also clericals, singles areas.” Cluster #25 is comprised of “Urban/suburban, older, upper-middle class with a substantial Jewish segment.” By superimposing the Claritas Clusters upon the 280,000 Census Block Groups \(each averaging 280 country can be assigned the appropriate Cluster designation. When coupled with the results of a well-designed public opinion survey, the implications for a campaign’s ability to directly communicate specific messages to specifically selected groups of voters are startling. ASHINGTON, D.C. POLITICAL consultant Matt Reese was the first to recognize the enormous leverage such a “targeting” system could provide political candi THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15
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