Technology

GOP Takes Big Step in Voter Data

National Journal: “Beginning this week… Data Trust–a privately operated entity backed by the Republican National Committee that maintains a master list of voter information nationwide–is rolling out a marquee technical upgrade that will allow Republican campaigns and their allies to share voter information with one another in real time. The new feature will let campaigns and approved outside groups not only access voter information anytime (with their own data software) but update it instantly, so others viewing the voter lists can see the information immediately.”

Is Obama Data Too Much for Democratic Candidates?

Advertising Age says that local Democratic campaigns across the country “may struggle to use something as big and complex as Obama’s data trove, which was built for a nationwide campaign. Think of taking a fire hose to your flower garden, or asking the local marina’s security guy to dock a submarine.”

“The fact is, even if the political topics had stayed the same, most state legislative or U.S. House candidates can’t possibly use all the data that’s been given to the party. And, just as important, a single candidate simply doesn’t have the resources to hire more than one internal data handler, much less replicate the 50-plus crew that steered the Obama analytics ship.”

Does Your Playlist Give Away Your Political Affiliation?

Pandora Media “plans to roll out a new advertising service next week that would enable candidates and political organizations to target the majority of its 73 million active monthly Pandora listeners based on its sense of their political leanings,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“How can it do this? The company matches election results with subscribers’ musical preferences by ZIP Code. Then, it labels individual users based on their musical tastes and whether those artists are more frequently listened to in Democratic or Republican areas. Users don’t divulge their political affiliations when they sign up for Pandora.”

Political Cybersquatter Seeks Access

National Journal profiles Michael Deutsch, a little-known Florida resident who “has made it something of a hobby to snatch away desirable digital destinations from unwitting politicians.”

“Deutsch isn’t in it for the money. He’s just a self-diagnosed ‘C-SPAN junkie’ who says he wants ‘a chance to look behind the curtain.’ And he learned more than a decade ago that, as a man without the wealth to buy his way into intimate fundraisers, his best shot at getting close to the political stars that so fascinate him was to buy up political domain names early and leverage them later for some face time.”

Politician Sorry for “Liking” Photo of Teenager’s Genitals

Australian Minister of Education Peter Collier “says he has learned a valuable lesson in social networking after he ‘liked’ a Facebook photo without realizing that it showed a teenage prankster exposing himself,” the Guardian reports.

Collier apologized and said he “had no idea that the teenager, who was otherwise fully clothed and posing alongside an older man, was playing a prank commonly known as ‘sneaky nuts.'”

RNC Launches New Tech Initiative to Catch Democrats

“National Republicans are building a new data-sharing platform as the party moves to close a digital divide with Democrats that became glaringly apparent in the aftermath of the 2012 presidential election,” Roll Call reports.

They’ve got a partnership with two third-party entities “designed to facilitate unprecedented data generation and sharing across all GOP party committees, consultants, vendors and the conservative outside groups that have become increasingly active in political campaigns. The effort, which could cost up to $20 million, stems from recommendations made by the Growth and Opportunity Project, the RNC’s internal autopsy of what went wrong last year commissioned by Chairman Reince Priebus.”

Former Lawmakers Seek Evidence of Space Aliens

Former Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D) told the Detroit News that she’s “excited about presiding over a week’s worth of testimony about the existence of extraterrestrials.”

Kilpatrick “signed up with five other former members of Congress to listen to testimony aimed at proving alien contact with Earth and a government effort to cover it up.”

Also on the panel are former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AK), as well as former Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Darlene
Hooley (D-OR), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) and Merrill Cook (R-UT).

Could Google Sway an Election?

Psychologist Robert Epstein has testing the impact of a fictitious search engine “that manipulated search rankings, giving an edge to a favored political candidate by pushing up flattering links and pushing down unflattering ones,” the Washington Post reports.

“There is no reason to believe that Google would manipulate politically sensitive search results… Yet Epstein’s core finding — that a dominant search engine could alter perceptions of candidates in close elections — has substantial support. Given the wealth of information available about Internet users, a search engine could even tailor results for ­­­certain groups, based on location, age, income level, past search history, Web browsing history or other factors.”