Politics and the goings on in the White House are now more enthralling than ever thanks to the likes of Olivia Pope, Jed Bartlett and, of course, Frank Underwood. House of Cards is often referred to as the modern day West Wing and we owe the Netflix created series for bringing back a stellar Kevin Spacey to our television screens. Now, while we are well aware that these shows are fiction and pitched to entertain us, a lot of the storylines are rooted in fact.
Let me set the scene, House of Cards style: In the show, Governor Will Conway, the 2016 GOP presidential candidate, is pals with the founder of a search engine called Pollyhop. The Pollyhop founder hands Conway enough user metadata to spur a campaign surge. Not to be outdone, President Frank Underwood hits up the secretive FISA Court (aka the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court), which issues surveillance warrants, and receives authorization for the NSA to spy on practically every American so that Underwood’s reelection campaign can access detailed voter data of its own.
The Underwood approach is definitely against the law. “Data on U.S. voters for an election? Absolutely illegal and unbelievable,” NSA spokesperson Vanee Vines told Vocativ. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t technically possible. It’s a long shot, yes, but with the right (read: incredibly corrupt) administration, it could happen.
Gathering voter data was always a thing, that’s why we canvass and build relationships in the political field. Politicians want to invest time in people so people will return that investment in them. This is why Frank Underwood’s scheme is even more shocking - he is cutting all the interaction out of politics. He has tainted the idea of voter data by simply taking it without asking. Look, for example, at the recent scandal in the Democratic race. In December, a staffer from Bernie Sanders campaign improperly accessed voter data from the Clinton campaign.
This is why it is refreshing to see more and more campaigns investing in political technology to improve grassroots engagement, building civic communications and organically enhance their voter files. Ted Cruz did remarkable work on the ground in the run-up to the Iowa caucus, harvesting information from the residents back in February, eventually leading him to be a victory.
Not everyone is as morally bankrupt as Frank Underwood and if you want to learn more about building a fair voter list then feel free to contact us.