America — A One-Party Country?
By now everyone has a handle on Karl Rove’s methods for duping millions of gullible American voters. Character assassination, attacking your opponent’s strongest point instead of his weaknesses, painting your opponent into a corner by framing and defining the issues — these are all part of the Rove playbook.
But now it seems there’s a whole new level to his trademark combination of shrewdness and deviousness. He has a grasp of niche marketing that few advertising executives or market researchers could even touch.
This column by George Will shows that Rove is so far ahead of his nearest competitor, it doesn’t even matter who comes in second. When Democrats try to argue their position using logic and facts, they’re so outgunned by Rove’s amoral tactics, it’s like a Little League team trying to beat the New York Yankees.
George Will talks about niche marketing and microtargeting. According to his column, Democrats are facing “tremendous odds” in their quest to avoid being marginalized. His column is based on a book by two L.A. Times reporters called “One Party Country.”
In the 2004 election, the Bush campaign had a database called Voter Vault. This database was used for microtargeting more constituencies than you could ever imagine.
One example (out of many): several thousand Russian Jewish immigrants in the Cleveland area were targeted. Speeches (in Russian) urged these people to vote for Bush. Local Republicans had a database on every Orthodox Jewish residence in this Cleveland neighborhood and they knew exactly which emotional buttons to push.
Rove knows more market research minutiae than any ten advertising agencies, and he puts this knowledge to sinister use. Bourbon drinkers are more likely to be Republican; gin drinkers are heavily Democratic. The Rove Machine uses hundreds, thousands, of factoids like this to zero in and figure out exactly which buttons to push with which voters.
In the 2004 election, the Republicans were geniuses at using these custom-tailored messages against “slivers of the electorate” as Will puts it. It amounted to a stealth campaign. These “slivers” were snipped away from the Democrats in so many places, they didn’t register in national polls or on the radar of Democratic strategists.
As Will puts it: “It was the political equivalent of stealth technology in air power: Democrats would feel the bombs explode, but they could not see the bombers.”
George Will says: “Politically, there are not two Americas, the Red and Blue states. There are countless constituencies to be courted with niche marketing. In a closely divided nation, with a small and shrinking number of truly unaffiliated voters, supremacy goes to the party with the best database and most nimble microtargeters.”
For those of us who are alarmed by the Neocon takeover of our government: We need to learn Rove’s tactics and beat him at his own game. We've got our work cut out for us. Can we do it?