Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Parsing through the votes.

When most people say their votes don’t matter, they’re referring to the massive sea of votes that are counted, out of which theirs was but a mere drop. However, the cutthroat tactics of Karl Rove in the 2000 and 2004 election showed that some of our votes do matter very much. In 2000 Florida(and Colorado if you remember what Nader did) got the honor of mattering most, and in 2004 that dilapidated crown went to Ohio.

These emphases on each little vote, though, made our collective stomachs turn a bit since it seemed like the voting field had been minced and parsed until the weakest points were exposed, and then the more cunning candidate would harp on it until he got the needed amount of votes plus one.

This tactic isn’t entirely new, secure what you can, don’t worry about what you can’t, and then pander to the people in the middle. This election year is likely to see similar tactics, but now it has moved into the primaries with frightening vivacity. The republicans showed that they could do it best earlier this decade, but the democrats have apparently taken a page from their playbook, too.

strategist, Mark Penn, is known for his tactic of focusing in on ‘micro-trends’ and ‘micro-issues,’ and then offering a ‘micro-policy’ that could provide a ‘micro-resolution' With Rovian cunning, Mark has the moxy to win the election for the democrats but tear their playing field to bits in the process.

I personally don’t imagine Mark in the same way I do Rove, standing over a map of the country with a deep red marker, crossing off the loyalists that are in their pocket and drawing targets on the poor saps who he’s going to try to sway. However, according to his outlook, massive amount of statistical analysis and a bit of creativity not only highlight the areas subject to change, but how one could go about changing them.

To sum it up: This sort of hyper-analysis is only possible with the massive amounts of information we are now able to collect, and modern supercomputers to dissect it and make it meaningful. The broad access to incomprehensible amounts of information is supposed to disseminate knowledge and level the playing field. In this case, however, it’s allowing for the creation of corporate and political strategies that make us resemble pawns on a chessboard more than ever. I suspect that we’re going to get a whole new meaning to the phrase “each vote matters” in this election. Sure each vote matters, but some votes matter more than others.

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