first_imgIF you’re a Democrat, Sen. Barbara Boxer or some other party bigwig has probably called you with one of those pre-recorded messages, reminding you to vote in November. Unless, of course, you speak Spanish, in which case the message probably came from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. And if you’re a Republican, you can expect a call from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unless you live in an especially “red” ZIP code; then you’ll likely be hearing from state Sen. Tom McClintock. You’ve been “microtargeted.” The parties think they’ve got you all figured out. Using the database technology of private-sector marketers, the big-bucks consultants keep a virtual dossier on every household in the state – how you’re registered, how much your home is worth, your gender and ethnicity, plus any other information they can scour. Technology and high-paid consultants have turned politics into the science of creating a just-big-enough coalition to win, while ignoring everyone else. It’s the only way to succeed, the operatives say. We’re not so sure. We still hold out hope that politicians who pursue practical solutions can unite a real majority of voters. But until massive numbers of voters overwhelm the campaign consultants’ schemes, we will continue to get microtargeted – and macro-disgusted.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe joys and headaches of holiday travel: John PhillipsFrom there, they draw up your profile, and target you accordingly through mailers, phone calls, maybe even door-to-door solicitations. This, the campaigns tell us, is a good thing. In the old days, candidates saturated the airwaves with negative ads in the hopes of depressing turnout for their opponents. Now they’re accentuating the positive – trying to inspire their own base to show up, rather than scaring the other folks away. Maybe, but there’s still no shortage of negativity in microtargeted campaigns. And we still get plenty of vitriolic TV ads – so many that demand has sent the price of California airtime up 50 percent in the last three weeks. Meanwhile, microtargeting serves not only as one more infringement of our privacy and a general annoyance, but also as a polarizing force in politics. Parties may be getting ever better at turning out their “base,” but the vast middle is more alienated than ever. In 1982, nearly 70 percent of California voters cast ballots in the gubernatorial election. In 2002, it was only 50 percent. And by all indications, that figure could be even lower this time around. last_img

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