Catalist for Victory: How Nonprofits and Unions Have Struggled to Re-elect President Obama
By Neil Maghami, Organization Trends, November 2012 (PDF here)
Summary: Supposedly nonpartisan nonprofits on the Left and their union allies have exploited the latest “microtargeting” technology as they’ve worked feverishly to elect Democrats. The most powerful weapon in their arsenal is Catalist LLC, a state-of-the-art data firm that services both “nonpartisan” nonprofits and every would-be Democrat officeholder who can afford it. (Note: This study went to press shortly before the election.)
Winning in war, quipped a Southern leader in the Civil War, is all about getting to the battlefield “firstest with the mostest.” That’s a formula for victory in presidential politics, too. When it comes to mustering all possible support on Election Day 2012 for the Democratic Party, unions and tax-exempt left-wing groups have played a critical role in the party’s get-out-the-vote strategy. Since 2006 a high-tech operation called Catalist LLC has helped both unions and tax-exempt groups fine-tune their electoral influence to the point that they may well provide the Democrats the edge they need.
Catalist boasts it was vital to President Obama’s 2008 victory. By its own admission, “over 90 organizations, campaigns and committees” used the company’s services. “Based on data that was loaded into the Catalist databases and then standardized,” a Catalist analysis of the 2008 cycle says, “progressive organizations, the Obama campaign, and federal party committees attempted to contact more than 106 million people. This means that the progressive community attempted to contact over 46% of the U.S. adult population. Contacts were delivered in-person, over the phone, by mail and over the internet.”
Catalist says that “data stored by all progressive groups (over 90 organizations, campaigns and committees) working with [us] in the 2008 cycle shows that presidential [voter] ID activity alone reached 15,452,954 people—a difference of over 80% [compared to 2004]. Overall, Catalist customers were responsible for generating over 7 million voter registration applications. They completed over 127 million contacts to over 49 million unique individuals. Of these individuals, 28 million voted on Election Day, representing over 20% of all votes cast. Furthermore, 82% of progressive activities occurred in 16 highly contested states. Progressives contacted 37% of all the people who voted in the 16 battlegrounds.”
If this is what Catalist and its allies could achieve in 2008, imagine their goals for 2012, after four more years of refining their techniques. This edition of Organization Trends examines the who’s, why’s, and how’s of Catalist. We’ll also explore Catalist’s link to George Soros, the Left’s Daddy Warbucks. And we’ll look at some of Catalist’s known customers in the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt community and among labor unions.