When the election was over, the Republican National Committee commissioned a poll to figure out whether Gage’s suppositions about why people voted were accurate. Gage’s models predicted voters’ tendencies with 90 percent accuracy, according to Dowd, and Gage was hired to microtarget the 16 or so battleground states in the 2004 election.
It wasn’t long before this new, more sophisticated form of data mining became part of the mythology surrounding Rove and his role as “the architect” of Bush’s reelection. Its use in Ohio, in particular, was credited with unearthing Bush supporters and delivering the state and the election to him.
Now Gage is working for another Republican presidential candidate entranced by the possibilities of microtargeting — Mitt Romney. A Harvard Business School graduate who went on to head Bain Capital, Romney has made a point of adapting modern business techniques to politics, and it was in his successful 2002 campaign to be governor of Massachusetts that Gage’s methods were first tried.
“The governor believes in accountability, benchmarks and metrics,” said Beth Myers, Romney’s campaign manager, explaining his interest in microtargeting. “He believes in using data when it comes to making decisions.”