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Aug. 28 Has Room for Another Milestone

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington. (By Steve Gerstel -- United Press International)
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"The big change is you think about individuals and everything that implies," Podhorzer says. "You take people as they are, not with your preconceived notions."

It's microtargeting -- the art/science of using scads of consumer data to better communicate effective messages to voters -- on steroids. And Podhorzer, in the words of Quinn, is "John the Baptist."

That may be a bit much. But when an organization as large as the AFL-CIO adopts this sort of approach to talking to voters, others pay attention. Guided by data-driven politics, Podhorzer and the AFL-CIO plan to spend more than $50 million in 24 states considered central not only to the presidential race but also to congressional candidates. If the technique works, it may be old hat by 2012.

For Podhorzer, it's a no-brainer. Targeting effective messages with his data-driven model aims to ensure that the millions being spent on direct mail and phone calls to union members are not wasted. And the success of the approach in the business world -- credit card companies, among others, have long employed this approach to broaden their customer base -- gives Podhorzer confidence that the political world is simply late to the game.

"Politics has built this silo around it that has kept out an awful lot of interesting tools and research that is very effective in other areas of the world," he says.

PLAYERS

Jamie Smith, a constant presence at Hillary Clinton's side during the New York senator's campaign for president, has landed in the office of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a supporter of Barack Obama during the primaries. Of Smith, who will be communications director for the senator from West Virginia, Rockefeller said: "She brings with her impressive credentials, invaluable experience and a strong commitment to serving West Virginia."

Nine days: All eyes in the political world will be on the Democratic National Convention in Denver. But make sure to keep an eye (if you happen to have an extra) on the congressional primaries in Alaska. Scandal-tarred Sen. Ted Stevens (R) and Rep. Don Young (R) both face peril.

16 days: Actor George Clooney is slated to host a fundraiser for Barack Obama's campaign in Switzerland. The Republican attack ad almost writes itself.


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