Democrats may sell themselves to voters as the party standing against “big business,” but they’re also the political party willing to sell the voter data they collect to “big business” for big bucks.
Now, the record of what people told Democratic volunteers may go up for sale — and not just to political groups. Democrats are looking into whether credit card companies, retailers like Target or other commercial interests may want to buy the information. …
But local Democratic parties also have information about voters’ views and preferences collected over many campaign cycles. (We wrote about Minnesota’s data-collecting“Grandma Brigade” last month.) Some states have used this raw data to create sophisticated estimates of how likely any voter is to vote for a Democrat, support Barack Obama or have certain opinions, say, on abortion or gun control.
As the co-op moves into its second year of selling data in an already crowded marketplace, it’s looking for new potential clients — and companies who may use the data for commercial purposes, as opposed to political ones, are on the list.
“That’s one of our growth areas,” said Drew Brighton of TargetSmart Communications, which helps administer and market the Co-op’s data. “Over the next six months, we are going to go ahead and make the rounds with some corporate prospects.”
Brighton said retailers, for example, might be interested in figuring out if their customers are primarily Democrats or Republicans. “People want to know who shops in their stores,” he said.
Democrats involved with the co-op do not know what companies might be most interested in buying their voter data.
“What the co-op is doing is saying, ‘Look, there’s a wealth of information here, that could potentially benefit your corporation or your business interests,’” said Ken Martin, a member of the co-op’s board, and the chairman of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, the Obama campaign is in the process of morphing itself into a lobbying organization funded by money from big businesses. That bit of hypocrisy is every bit as blatant as this sale of personal data to businesses.
Which isn’t to say that I’m against corporate money in politics. I’m for it. I just wish the Democrats would quit being a bunch of hypocrites about it.