The Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton and Harold Ickes and funded by radical leftist George Soros, are organizing their own data mining project in an attempt to compete with the Republicans’ electronic data base.
A group of well-connected Democrats led by a former top aide to Bill Clinton is raising millions of dollars to start a private firm that plans to compile huge amounts of data on Americans to identify Democratic voters and blunt what has been a clear Republican lead in using technology for political advantage.
The effort by Harold Ickes, a deputy chief of staff in the Clinton White House and an adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), is prompting intense behind-the-scenes debate in Democratic circles. Officials at the Democratic National Committee think that creating a modern database is their job, and they say that a competing for-profit entity could divert energy and money that should instead be invested with the national party.
Ickes and others involved in the effort acknowledge that their activities are in part a vote of no confidence that the DNC under Chairman Howard Dean is ready to compete with Republicans on the technological front. “The Republicans have developed a cadre of people who appreciate databases and know how to use them, and we are way behind the march,” said Ickes, whose political technology venture is being backed by financier George Soros.
“It’s unclear what the DNC is doing. Is it going to be kept up to date?” Ickes asked, adding that out-of-date voter information is “worse than having no database at all.”
Ickes’s effort is drawing particular notice among Washington operatives who know about it because of speculation that he is acting to build a campaign resource for a possible 2008 presidential run by Hillary Clinton. She has long been concerned, advisers say, that Democrats and liberals lack the political infrastructure of Republicans and their conservative allies. Ickes said his new venture, Data Warehouse, will at first seek to sell its targeting information to politically active unions and liberal interest groups, rather than campaigns.
As it stands now, the DNC and Data Warehouse, created by Ickes and Democratic operative Laura Quinn, will separately try to build vast and detailed voter lists — each effort requiring sophisticated expertise and costing well over $10 million.
What good is a database of Democratic voters if the Dems are incapable of coming up with a coherent message to send to their voters?
“By the time the election rolls around, people are going to know where Democrats stand,” Reid said.
But many in the party have their doubts. On Feb. 27, Reid and Pelosi appeared before the Democratic Governors Association. At one point in the conversation, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, noting that the two leaders had talked about a variety of themes and ideas, asked for help. Could they reduce the message to just two or three core ideas that governors could echo in the states?
According to multiple accounts from those in the room, Reid said they had narrowed the list to six and proceeded to talk about them. Pelosi then offered her six — not all the same as Reid’s. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said later: “One of the other governors said ‘What do you think?’ and I said ‘You know what I think? I don’t think we have a message.’ “
Viking Pundit is also blogging about the Dems’ lack of message.