2004 Presidential Election: MicroTargeting

After the 2000 presidential election, the Republican National Committee undertook a post election review and critique of what is often referred to as the "ground game" or the tactical processes and procedures designed to mobilize supports on Election Day (GOTV).  This review was designated as the "72 Hour Task Force." The task force arrived at a list of critiques and area of needed improvement in order to execute a more effective and efficient "ground game" in 2004.

Two specific critiques were the impetus for the research and development of what was to become a new campaign buzzword "microtargeting."  First, the Republican Party was deficient in voter identification; meaning that the traditional ways of identifying party supports such as personal and telephone canvassing were not producing quality voter lists.  Second, in addition to poor list in terms of quantity, there was an inability to target the most persuasive message to a specific GOP voter.

In  2003, the Republican National Committee retained the firm TargetPoint Consulting (TPC) to address these specific needs; better voter lists and more effective messaging for direct voter contact programs.

TPC developed MicroTargeting, a custom and proprietary segmentation model protocol.  The core underpinning of microtargeting is that "more information is better."  Basic voter registration information for an individual voter was enhanced with all legally available life style and life cycle information for that same voter. These enhanced voter database were analyzed using advanced "data mining" techniques, which basically created a "political DNA sequence" for every voter in a state.

This advanced "data mining" could assign a partisan probability score (Republican or Democrat) to every voter from the voters most profitable to least profitable.  In addition, voters could be scored based on likelihood or voting (turnout) and on different issues from economic to cultural.  MicroTargeting provided the RNC and the Bush-Cheney campaign with improved voter lists with which to execute all direct voter contact programs (mail, phone, personal contact)

The convergence of several technological trends made MicroTargeting possible.  These trends include:

the ability to digitally store, archive and analyze massive amounts of data;

the growth in the quantity and quality of multi-sourced consumer information linked to an individual consumer--these data provide a wealth of information about an individual's life cycle and life style characteristics and behavior as a consumer and voter;

the ability to link and integrate multiple "data islands" containing valuable information about individual consumers; and
the analytical power to search and discover meaningful patterns and relationships with which to create new and proprietary information about an individual voter.

The Company

TargetPoint Consulting (TPC) is a full service public opinion and market research firm based in Alexandria, Virginia.  TPC is a leader in advanced market segmentation and market targeting for politics and public policy communications.

The firm was founded in 2003 as a strategic business partnership between Alexander P. Gage and Market Strategies Inc. (MSI), a market research firm.  Prior to founding TPC, Gage was one of the founders and principals of MSI from 1989 to 2002; he served as the senior manager of their Politics and Policy Group.

See also:

Paul Singer.  "Election 2004 - Bush's Assorted Rainmakers."  National Journal, November 6, 2004.

Thomas B. Edsall and James V. Grimaldi.  "On Nov. 2, GOP Got More Bang For Its Billion, Analysis Shows."  The Washington Post.  December 30, 2004.