Voter tracking and identification: The Conservative advantage

By Harold Jansen on Sep 13, 2008

Michael Valpy has a great article in the Globe and Mail that details the Conservatives' sopgisticated voter database. It's something that Harper and the Conservatives have been building for years, as detailed in Tom Flanagan's interesting book, Harper's Team. It allows the Conservatives to identify and get out the vote, but also allows them to fundraise between elections. It's part of the secret why the Conservatives are swimming in cash while the Liberals have to borrow to finance their campaign. It's a big advantage and something that to my knowledge the other parties are well beyond them in developing.

Although it is good marketing technique, the whole practice of microtargeting raises questions about the nature of democracy. Are we sacrificing a national public debate for a series of microconversations aimed at particular demographic slices of the electorate? The triumph of marketing over political discourse is probably a sad development, but the genie was out of the bottle on this one decades ago. This is just the latest technological evolution of the practice.

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