By Sasha Issenberg (Wall Street Journal)
Before Michigan's 2006 gubernatorial primary, an East Lansing direct-mail consultant named Mark Grebner decided to shame nonvoters. He sent citizens copies of their own publicly available voting histories, along with those of their neighbors, and said that he would deliver an updated set following the election. In response, Mr. Grebner received death threats, but his tactic worked. Those whom he targeted were 20% more likely to show up at the polls than those who received a standard get-out-the-vote reminder.
Welcome to the modern science of politics, where voters have become lab rats in an ongoing cycle of controlled trials informed by principles from behavioral psychology. Once dominated by superstition and guesswork, campaigns today are now awash in data and insights that allow them to act on that data.
As election day approaches, here are five ways that campaigns are using these new tools to sway voters: