Terrence McCoy writes in the Atlantic:
On a clear day in February 2001, a trim mid-career political analyst named Matthew Dowd landed in Washington, D.C., from Austin, Tex., and hurried into the White House for a meeting with Karl Rove. Inside a manila folder, he carried a sparsely-populated bar graph. The few numbers it had hit Rove like a bomb.
“Really?” Rove asked, snatching the document and glancing back at Dowd. “Man, this is a fundamental change.”
The truly independent voting bloc, Dowd’s data showed, had dissolved from one-fourth of the electorate in 1984 to just 7 percent. That meant the years of work leading up to the 2000 campaign and hundreds of millions of campaign dollars during it had focused on just 7 percent of voters — fewer than 8 million people. Everything next time, Dowd told Rove in his second-floor office, would have to be different. Forget independents. Find the Republicans hidden among the Democrats. What Dowd wanted, he would say years later, was “Moneyball for politics.”
He got it. Paired with a blond-haired pollster, Alex Gage, they marshaled a campaign strategy for the re-elect entirely divergent from anything in 2000. They named it “microtargeting.” The goal: Unearth every available fact on individual voters — what they eat, drive, buy their kids, who they really are — and use that information to persuade them to vote for George W. Bush. Use it to make them angry. Because more than any other emotion, rage and fear propel people to the polls. It worked: Just as they predicted, Americans worried by the social implications of gay marriage turned out in droves in 2004.
Read More: Atlantic