A lot changed in political campaigns since I worked my first for Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Democrats and Republicans are now at a place where established patterns repeat each cycle: marching in parades, having a booth at the county fair, putting up sign advertising, and canvassing voters. These may be comforting, yet campaign action has moved.
Both major parties use big data to inform their campaigns.
Perhaps the most dramatic change was the way Trump campaigns used Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to scrape personal data about tens of millions of voters from the internet, and then custom target voters with tens of thousands of distinct daily ads designed to either persuade people to vote for Trump or not vote at all.
Progressive radio host Thom Hartmann wrote that on the day of the third presidential debate in October 2020, team Trump ran 175,000 variations of ads micro-targeting voters. These ads were, for the most part, not publicly seen.
This is way beyond showing up to meet candidates at a county fair.
Despite this use of technology, elections reduce to staying engaged with candidates, and working to cast an informed vote. That pressure from social media to disengage from politics? Someone is working to make us feel that way. We must resist and vote for who best serves our interests.
I reviewed the candidates and for me, Democrats on the ballot deserve our votes. That’s for whom I will vote on Nov. 8.
~ First published as a letter to the editor of The Little Village on July 15, 2022
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