November 08, 2004

GIS Computer Software and the Bush Reelection Strategy

Last week we speculated on the use of Geographic Information Systems software as a critical element of establishing the Republican victory:

I have a hunch that the key to the victory was an incredibly detailed, precinct by precinct mapping of the entire country, and building the whole campaign around those central truths. The Republicans had their eye on the electoral ball in a way that the Democrats never seemed to. We're all aware how much computer technology influenced this campaign in terms of the internet, but I do not think we are really appreciating the influence of Geographic Information Software (GIS), and its ability to graphically represent a vast quantity of data. My hunch is that Rove and his people made extensive use of GIS software in placing ads, and most importantly in the get out the vote. Meanwhile, the Democrats spent millions of dollars hosting a string of Jon Bon Jovi/John Cougar Mellencamp concerts.

I haven't been able to find any stories about the GOP using GIS--I don't know for a fact that they were, but the precision with which their end game was run makes me think they were.

Yesterday, this insightful article in the Washington Post had the following tidbit:

Bush's advisers said one key to victory was the early decision to change the composition of the electorate by finding and registering more Republicans. "When I went to the RNC in July [2003], I asked Karl what was the most important thing I could do, and he said, 'Close the gap between registered Republicans and registered Democrats,' " Gillespie said. "We registered 3.4 million voters."

Bush's team did not go about this randomly. With considerable assistance from Dowd's research, the Bush operation sniffed out potential voters with precision-guided accuracy, particularly in fast-growing counties beyond the first ring of suburbs of major cities. The campaign used computer models and demographic files to locate probable GOP voters. "They looked at what they read, what they watch, what they spend money on," a party official said.

Once those people were identified, the RNC sought to register them, and the campaign used phone calls, mail and front-porch visits -- all with a message emphasizing the issues about which they cared most -- to encourage them to turn out for Bush. "We got a homogeneous group of new registered voters and stayed on them like dogs," another official said.

That combination -- careful identification of potential Bush voters and continuing contact with the help of a volunteer army that Mehlman said numbered 1.4 million people by Election Day -- helped Bush overcome what Democrats regard as their best-ever get-out-the-vote operation.

Many Democrats have seized on exit polls showing that 22 percent of voters said "moral values" were most important to them as evidence of what brought Bush the victory. But Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin, in an analysis released yesterday, said he disagrees, noting that Bush had increased his support among nonregular churchgoers more than among churchgoers. "To focus on values misses the crucial point that this was the post-9/11 election, and the war on terror set the stage and the context for the choices many voters were making," Garin wrote.

What they are describing is GIS programs.

Advantage Llamabutchers!

Posted by Steve at November 8, 2004 11:30 AM | TrackBack

Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped. Elbert Hubbard (1856 - 1915)

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