Great story by Mackenzie Carpenter today on get-out-the-vote drives underway the next two weeks:
Sorting out the undecided voter from the sporadic voter, or from the high propensity voter to the late breaking voter, is a more data-driven exercise than ever before, and more influenced by behavioral psychology.
At the University of Pittsburgh's Student Union, Lara Sullivan, head of the school's College Democrats, has been working for weeks with Obama for America student volunteers, handing out cards for students -- a demographic notorious for not voting -- to fill out, pledging to vote for Mr. Obama, why, where and when.
Then, sometime next week, Ms. Sullivan said, the "commit cards" will be sent back to the students.
"It's a really a great system," she said. "We just got a batch of cards from the Obama campaign last week, that say, 'I'm pledging to vote for Barack Obama because ...' and then the student fills in the blanks, women's rights, student loans, Pell grants, whatever. I have a really great sense it's going to work because they're basically signing something remembering why they're voting."
There's psychology behind all of this, says Sasha Issenberg, author of "The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns." A written pledge to vote, in effect a public declaration within a peer group, will make it more likely the pledger will actually go to the polls, he said.
These days, "campaigns have very granular projections about how likely every single voter in Pennsylvania will be to cast the ballot" and how to get them to the polls, he said.
Sussing out why people vote or don't vote isn't rocket science, but it is behavioral science -- refined during the 2004 and 2008 campaigns by "maverick operatives and academics now calling the shots in some of the most cutting-edge war room," according to "The Victory Lab" website. These days, Mr. Issenberg argues, "the smartest campaigns now believe they know who you will vote for even before you do."