By Alicia Powe
Over 100 million Americans were tracked from their cell phones and assigned “COVID-19 decree violation” scores throughout the Covid lockdowns.
PredictWise, a voter analytics firm, harvested location data from tens of millions of US cell phones and provided the data to Democrat campaigns and the Democrat National Committee to develop campaign ads targeting swing voters.
According to a PredictWise white paper, the firm harvested the data by surveilling “nearly two billion GPS [global positioning system] pings” to acquire “real-time, ultra-granular locations patterns.”
PredictWise assigned a Covid-19 decree score based on how much an individual adhered to lockdown restrictions and stayed home, “compliers” or disregarded quarantine measures and traveled away from their homes.
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The harvested data was then provided to the Democratic National Committee and the Democrat Parties in swing states to target “Covid concerned” Republicans with ads promoting Covid safety measures.
“PredictWise understood that there were potential pockets of voters to target with Covid-19 messaging and turned high-dimensional data covering over 100 million Americans into measures of adherence to Covid-19 restrictions during deep lockdown,” the firm’s white paper states.
“PredictWise targeted Republicans who scored high on our measure of Covid-19 decree violations (folks who were on the go more often than their neighbors) and Republicans who scored low on our measure of Covid-19 decree violation (folks who mostly or always stayed at home),” the firm notes.
Democrats in swing states have partnered with PredictWise, which “tracks the opinions, attitudes and behaviors” of over 260 million Americans or 78 percent of the US population,to target voters with ad campaigns.
The firm’s client lists include the Democratic National Committee, the Democrat Parties of Arizona, North Dakota, Ohio, Florida and South Carolina and Target Smart, an organization that provides political data for campaigns and advocacy organizations.
PredictWise claims the data, which identified “persuasion targets,” was provided to the Arizona Democrats to secure the electoral victory of Senator Mark Kelly.
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“The Arizona Dems Coordinated Campaign in support of now U.S. Senator Mark Kelly was able to deploy this real-time location model to open up just over 40,000 persuasion targets that normally would have fallen off, allowing them to give the right message to the right voter at the right time,” the company states.
In addition to location and survey data, PredictWides notes that it also tracks “telemetry data,” which is “passively sourced cell phone data,” media consumption data and unregistered voter data.
Crate & Barrel, a furniture and home decor store, also provided data obtained from its online shoppers to PredictWise, the firm claims.
The New York Times added this:
Republicans whose phone locations showed that they left home a lot received high “COVID-19 decree violation” scores, while those who mainly stayed home received low scores, according to a PredictWise report. In follow-up surveys of some voters, researchers found that stay-at-home Republicans were almost as concerned about the pandemic as Democrats.
The firm said it had used the data to help Democrats in several swing states target more than 350,000 “COVID-concerned” Republicans with COVID-related campaign ads. In Arizona, PredictWise reported, the scores helped Democrats “open up just over 40,000 persuasion targets” for Mark Kelly, who was running for Senate. (Kelly’s office did not respond to emails and calls requesting comment.)
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