Archive - Sep 25, 2006
As Democrats drive to extend their power in Congress, holding on to Debbie Stabenow's Senate seat is a must. And the Michigan incumbent is currently ahead in the polls.
But Republican strategists are working hard to upset Stabenow, in part through a low-profile appeal to a group that most politicians rarely think of as a voting bloc - snowmobilers.
And the stealth campaign to woo the thousands of working-class, historically Democratic Michiganders whose cold-weather passion is snowmobiles is just one small example of a technique known as "micro-targeting" that GOP strategists are using across the country as they try to pull off another election day victory against the odds.
By most measures, the November elections offer Democrats their best chance in years. If anti-Republican sentiment turns out to be a tidal wave, strategic and tactical brilliance may not be enough to protect the GOP majorities in Congress.
But if control of Congress comes down to three or four dozen closely contested races, as now seems likely, then micro-targeting and the other technologies that Republicans are using in battleground states could make a difference.
The GOP system - built around a database nicknamed Voter Vault - combines huge amounts of demographic, financial and other personal information on individual voters with the data-mining techniques used by direct-mail advertisers to deliver surgically targeted appeals to voters identified as likely to respond, including many who might be considered part of the Democratic base.
In Michigan, for example, the GOP contacted snowmobilers by mail, telephone or other personal communication suggesting that Democrats' environmental views stood in the way of greater opportunities for snowmobiling.
Though details of the GOP system are secret, snowmobilers and other categories of voters are identified from such diverse sources as credit card transactions, product warranty files, magazine subscription lists, consumer surveys, vehicle registrations and other public records.
From an article of the same title by K. Connie Kang in the LA Times:
Prayer is in.
Surveys show that church attendance may be down, but praying is up. Polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans pray â€” 82% of adults. Nearly 90% believe in God. Books on prayer regularly make bestseller lists.
And many people are choosing to pray together, whether literally in the same room, such as the worshipers at Oriental Mission Church, or at home through organized prayer efforts.
"We're a people of faith," says Tim Kelly, theologian and psychologist on the faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. "Unlike the other Western nations that have turned away from their religious roots as they became more advanced, America has remained well-grounded in faith."...
The advent of the Internet has made group praying more visible and organized, enabling millions to pray about the same issues daily.
The nation's largest prayer group is believed to be the Internet-based Presidential Prayer Team, which claims 3 million participants nationwide. Participants agree to pray daily for the nation, President Bush, his Cabinet, other national leaders, U.S. troops and their families. The nondenominational spiritual movement, based in Phoenix, also got its start after Sept. 11...
Some prayer groups specialize in Hollywood.
One is the Hollywood Prayer Network, which pairs up people outside the entertainment industry with Christians inside Hollywood as one-to-one "prayer partners." The goal: that every Christian in Hollywood will be prayed for by an intercessor somewhere around the world.
The group now has more than 400 one-to-one prayer partnerships in the U.S. and three other countries. Its homepage (hollywoodprayernetwork.org) shows the famous Hollywood sign over the Los Angeles skyline.
Another organization, Redlands-headquartered Mastermedia International Inc., asks participants to pray for celebrities and members of the entertainment industry who don't know they are being prayed for.