Mitt Romney’s campaign is sending out this flyer in Northern Virginia:
As first noticed by Mother Jones, it’s a particularly specific bit of microtargeting — sending a message only to a small group of voters with particular interests.
In this case, that interest is ticks.
“This is a hyper-local race here in the Number One Battleground State in the country,” said Pete Snyder, a technology executive and chairman of Romney’s Virginia campaign. “Yes, Mitt Romney is running for President, but we’re running this race in a high touch, grassroots, highly targeted way — just as if he was running for governor or county board of supervisors.”
According to the CDC there are less than 1,000 reported cases of Lyme disease in Virginia a year — in a state of eight million people.
“Looks like Mitt Romney’s finally delivering on his promises of being specific and bold,” snarked Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith on Twitter.
But the numbers have surged in recent years, and the issue comes up frequently in Northern Virginia. Gov. Bob McDonnell established a Lyme Disease Task Force in 2010. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has pushed for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Lyme disease budget to be dramatically increased. The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors declared 2012 Lyme Disease Awareness Year.
Romney recently wrote to Wolf and fellow Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), promising to “work to ensure that more attention is focused on this important issue.”
The president’s campaign in the area can be equally small-bore. The incumbent has aired radio ads saying the the “Ryan-Romney budget plan” would make traffic in NOVA even worse.
Romney has been using targeted ads since his 2002 gubernatorial campaign, and he used microtargeting successfully in his Iowa caucuses victory this cycle. As he told the Wall Street Journal in 2007, “I love data.”