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Obama V Romney: 'Microtargeting' In Ohio
Campaigning in the US presidential election has reached fever pitch but what we are seeing is only half the story.
Behind the campaign stops, speeches and rallies, a fierce digital battle is underway, as never before.
What will decide this election is the so called ground war on the doorsteps of swing voters and this time both sides are armed with the latest technology.
The buzzword in 2012 is "microtargeting" - applying the tactics and tricks of state of the art consumer marketing to politics.
In Cincinnati in the crucial battleground state of Ohio, campaigners are still pounding the streets with clipboards knocking on doors.
But behind those conventional methods an ever more sophisticated machine is at work.
Obama canvassers are armed with a new app for instance. Anyone can download it and acquire a surprising amount of information at the touch of a button.
Press the 'CANVASS' button and you are taken to a map showing the street you are standing on with blue flags highlighting houses where votes may be up for grabs.
Click on the flag and the first name of the homeowner is revealed, then his or her age and political inclination. The next page offers a doorstep script to help persuade voters to vote for Obama.
Importantly, there is also a box to enter information acquired during the conversation. That is fed back to the campaign's central database, adding to a huge amount of data already gathered in the last election.
More information helps campaigners target voters more effectively and in turn gather more data from them. It is a virtuous circle of data collection.
Campaigns are also buying voter information from data brokers just like businesses do.
John Aristotle Phillips, a data miner whose job is finding facts about people and selling them, said: "What would be important to the campaign is for instance if someone is a licenced gun owner or they're a hunter or a fisher or someone who has an interest in particular environmental causes or they're interested in certain charitable donations.
"And so there are these different ways of determining what the voter's orientation might be and most importantly what their interests might be."
The techniques were pioneered by the Democrats in the last election but Republicans seem to be catching up. They are reportedly using the similar methods although appear less willing to talk about them.
In a Republican 'victory centre', 19-year-old volunteer Patrick Reagan is busy working the phones.
He is happy to admit that from what he is seeing politics is becoming a business.
"They use a lot of what Mitt Romney used in his business days, a lot of crunching the numbers finding the solution, they target the right people. You'd be shocked by the amount of data that's being collected."
In theory better technology means more precise targeting. But try telling that to overwhelmed voters like Ken Hughes.
He is irritated by the constant knocks at the door and feels bombarded indiscriminately by the television and radio ads, and all the political junk mail that comes through the letter box.
"Sometimes it is humorous but we find it more insulting than anything else. We just can't wait for the election to be over.
"I just want to hear the real facts and I feel like I'm reading a fairy tale," he said.
He was not impressed by the Obama campaign app either.
"I guess you feel less of a human being and more a target than a person. The second part of it is it's an infringement on your privacy," Mr Hughes added.
Like it or not, the digital campaign revolution seems here to stay because its methods seem to work.
In the land of the free, politics is being boiled down to a digital process in which voters are surveyed, sampled and sifted. In turn, strategies are becoming ever more sophisticated and efficient at securing people's vote.