Massachusetts Republicans appear to be out-flanked at every turn this year. Democrat Deval L. Patrick boasts an unprecedented grass roots coalition. Polls show him leading big. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 1.
But Republican nominee Kerry Healey has a secret weapon: data. Lots of it.
Building on a model that Governor Mitt Romney used successfully in 2002, her campaign has been quietly identifying and courting likely supporters around the state through a sophisticated, niche-marketing strategy designed to cultivate a base of GOP, unenrolled, and even conservative Democratic voters who will pull the lever for her on Nov. 7.
It’s called “micro-targeting,” a computer-based method that allows the party to home in on individual voters and determine — based on their backgrounds, voting records, and consumer habits — whether they’re worth pursuing as potential supporters. Healey staffers and volunteers ignore households they know they’d never win, instead of trolling for support street by street like before.
[…] The master voter database is called Voter Vault and exists on the servers of the Republican National Committee; party operatives in each state have access to it. The Healey campaign may know, for example, that an unenrolled voter living in Chelmsford drives a certain car, subscribes to a certain magazine, and has voted for Republicans in the past. So they pitch a certain message — selling Healey’s position on wanting to create more charter schools, say — and log what they learn in a database.
The goal is to build profiles of all those voters, make sure they understand the distinctions between Healey and Patrick, and get them to the polls on Election Day. Healey’s campaign can even customize the information for volunteers at 14 regional offices around the state.