Who Knew What and When?

IRS

You can’t make this stuff up. Bradley Smith quoted from the WSJ:

The Internal Revenue Service’s scandalous targeting of tea party and conservative groups refuses to die, as one by one the administration’s explanations prove untrue.

We were told that the White House, like the rest of the country, learned about the program on May 10 through a planted question asked of then IRS official Lois Lerner at an American Bar Association conference. Turns out the White House knew earlier. We were told the targeting was the work of a few rogue IRS employees in Cincinnati. Then those employees insisted that they were being managed from Washington.

We were told that no political appointees were involved, but now we know the scandal goes at least to the office of Obama appointee and IRS Chief Counsel William Wilkins. We were told that liberal groups were targeted, too. But then the IRS’s inspector general, whose report exposed the harassment, clarified that only conservative groups were targeted.

Now the administration line is that the scandal is nonetheless “phony.” That assertion is part of a Democratic counteroffensive contending that the tea party and conservative groups applying for “charitable” tax status never should have sought such IRS approval.

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D., Calif.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, argued on “Meet the Press” on May 19 that conservative groups were, “under the guise of a charity, [using] undisclosed millions of dollars to do political campaigns.”

Rep. Becerra argues that 501(c)(4) status should be reserved for “something good, not groups that are in business to do politics.” That’s a remarkable statement from a man who has spent the past 22 years in elective office.

Big Data, Voting and You

Quoted from the WSJ. Full article here.

Marketing politicians is now like selling drinks. It involves filtering polices and voters through algorithms.

The Obama campaign focused on data showing the “persuadability” of voters. Multivariate tests identified issues and positions that could move undecided voters, ProPublica said: “The persuasion scores allowed the campaign to focus its outreach efforts—and their volunteer calls—on voters who might actually change their minds as the result. It also guided them in what policy messages individual voters should hear.”

Big data give incumbents a big advantage, which seems to have surprised the Romney team. The Obama campaign has used cookies to track its supporters online since the 2008 election. It spent the past 18 months creating a new, unified database, factoring in some 80 pieces of information about each person, from age, race and sex to voting history. (The campaign denied reports that it tracked visits to pornography sites in its outreach algorithms.) The Romney campaign says it tried to match the Obama campaign’s collection and analysis of data but had to start from scratch and had just seven months after the primaries.

What does this mean for you? Voters need to develop buyer-beware habits. The era of politicians saying the same thing to all voters is over. Campaigns aim to tell voters exactly what each wants to hear: data-driven pandering.