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April 18, 2008

So you say you prefer fried chicken from Popeyes over Chik-Fil-A? We know how you’re going to vote and, more importantly, campaign strategists think they know, too. [ABC News] [NY Times]

It’s called “microtargeting.” Political groups purchase data showing your credit card purchases, Internet shopping, etc. They cross-reference that info with voter lists, club memberships and census data to create voter profiles. And voila! They know how you’re going to vote. (They think.)

Love Dr. Pepper? You’re a Republican. Sip on Sprite? You’re a Democrat.

Do your cocktails tend to be clear, like gin, vodka or white wine? You’re a Democrat. You prefer a little color in your drinks, like bourbon or red wine? According to the data, you’re a Republican.

Do you read a lot of gourmet cooking magazines? Dem.

Do you eat a lot of stuffed-crust pizza? GOP.

If your high-end car is an Audi, you’re definitely a conservative. If you’re tooling around town in a Saab, you’re a total lib.

(They parse it out even further. Do you cook in butter? Then it’s Hillary for you! More an olive oil kind of chef? Then you obviously love Obama.)

We think it’s all a little silly – after all, we love Dr. Pepper-and-vodka cocktails when we try the stuffed-crust recipe we found in our gourmet cooking mags – but the candidates are spending a lot of time following these “microtrends.”

Once they figure out you should be on their side by what you like to eat and drink, they send you customized e-mails, phone messages or direct mail messages in an attempt to discover untapped areas of support. Legendary political strategists Karl Rove and Mark Penn brought the practice to a new level in recent campaigns.

Other strategists aren’t sold. Says our favorite Ragin’ Cajun James Carville, “Suppose I found out people who drink cappuccinos are Democrats and black coffee drinkers are likely to vote Republican? So what?”

Oh, and in case you were wondering, progressives love them some Popeyes, while conservatives flock to the Chik.

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