Reverse engineering targeted emails from 2012 Campaign

May 31, 2012

After noticing the Obama campaign was sending variations of an email to voters, ProPublica identified six distinct types with certain demographics and showed the differences. It was called the Message Machine. Now ProPublica is taking it a step further, hoping to dissect every email from all 2012 campaigns.

Today, we are relaunching the Message Machine, and expanding it from handling just one mailing to handling every email from all of the campaigns in the 2012 election. It will seek a broad understanding in real time of the new and sophisticated ways modern campaigns are targeting voters.

It’s a big puzzle, and to solve it, we need a big sample of political emails, and an understanding of who received them. That’s where you come in.

If you get campaign emails on any subject — donation, get-out-the-vote, volunteering, events, etc. — just forward them to [email protected] using your email program’s standard forwarding feature. Nothing fancier than that needed.

Way cool. Although I bet there will be a lot of noise, especially from the smaller, less data-savvy campaigns.

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