The smiling senior citizen walking by your house and looking intently at your political lawn sign may be out for more than just a stroll. She may be a political operative.
ProPublica, a national investigative journalism group, features a fascinating story on Minnesota’s “Grandma Brigade.”
These are women middle-aged and older who, as DFL volunteers, “scour their local newspapers each morning for letters to the editor with a political slant … pay attention to the names of callers on radio shows” and “drive through their neighborhoods and jot down the addresses of campaign lawn signs.”
The info, the story notes, finds its way eventually into a DFL database “that includes nearly every voter in Minnesota.”
Few places have data volunteers as dedicated as the ones in Minnesota, which has been held up as a model for other state Democratic parties.
Both Democrats and Republicans have centralized databases that, among other things, track opinions you share with local campaign volunteers.
Each piece of information the parties have stored about you might not be too interesting on its own. But taken together, they’re incredibly powerful. Political campaigns are using this voter data to predict voters’ behavior in increasingly sophisticated ways.
Click on the play button below to hear Lois Beckett, reporter for ProPublica, talk about the story.