Positioning for 2008?

Scott Tong May 31, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: Secretary Rice has said more than a couple of times she’s not interested in running for President. But one Democratic favorite made a political move today. Hillary Clinton announced she’s running — for the Senate again. And most assume she’ll be aiming for the White House in 2008. If she does, she’s got the fundraising machine to do it. Along with $20 million in the bank. Marketplace’s Scott Tong reports.

SCOTT TONG: Forty to one. That’s the money advantage Clinton enjoys over any Republican Senate challenger. Still, Baruch College political scientist Douglas Muzzio expects her to spend a bunch of her 20 mil.

DOUGLAS MUZZIO: They want a massacre here. They want to bury the Republicans. She wants to be slingshot out of this election.

He says Team Hillary deploys not just a massive fundraising machine, but a next-generation database operation. The idea is to crunch data — who has caller ID, who goes to the theater, who owns guns — and target people most likely to give. Campaign consultant Michael Cornfield says the field is hot.

MICHAEL CORNFIELD: The Republicans have been acquiring, accumulating knowledge of how to get out the vote and how to get the money for six years now. And the Democrats have caught up in terms of assembling data.

Though not necessarily, he says, in knowing how to mine the data. Now it’s hard to know what kinds of people are being profiled and targeted. It’s all super secret.

Joe Graf of George Washington University says that presents a problem. Since no one shares how they filter the data, it’s hard to know whether it works.

JOE GRAF: But that’s sort of a moot point because a lot of the people who are working in the campaigns really believe this is part of the future. That this is something they have to utilize in order to keep up with the other party.

In the end, professor Muzzio warns data mining only goes so far — whether it’s Senator Clinton or any other candidate. To win, you need what he calls MOM: money, organization, and message.

In Washington, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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