Tag Archives: 2012

What Is Catalist?


In the 1996 science fiction film “Star Trek: First Contact,” USS Enterprise captain Jean-Luc Picard and his crew did battle with a cybernetic enemy dubbed the “Borg.”  With the goal of forced assimilation into its collective consciousness, the Borg perpetually expanded itself via overwhelming force and instantaneous adaptability – instructing its targets that “resistance is futile.”

According to former U.S. Justice Department voting section lawyer J. Christian Adams, “Democrats and the institutional left” have an electoral tool at their disposal that rivals the Borg when it comes to seamlessness and sophistication.

“Every Borg unit can see what all the other units see,” Adams wrote for PJ Media. “They share data and react in unison. Similarly, the data feeding the central Catalist database is coming from a wide swath of sources. Public records, pollsters, campaigns, nonprofits, activist groups, unions, parties, commercial data. For example, when an environmental group does neighborhood door-knocking for cash, the results of those contacts are fed into Catalist.”

According to Adams, Catalist’s ability to instantaneously collect, sort and disseminate this data gives Democrats a decided electoral advantage owing to the fact “Republicans don’t have anything even close to this sort of data.”

Not only that – the database is driving the ideological direction of the country by enabling Democratic candidates to veer further to the left without sacrificing votes.

“Catalist is rendering moderation obsolete,” Adams wrote.  “Steering a moderate (and cautious) course made perfect sense before Catalist. But now, failing to appeal to an activated and motivated political base spells doom, as the last two presidential elections have demonstrated.”

There’s also a cost factor associated with this ideological shift – as these active, motivated political bases require little investment to get to the polls.  “Moderates,” on the other hand, are a tremendously costly proposition.

“Catalist is also devastating to Republicans because it sends them on an expensive goose chase to spend gobs of money to target moderates and independents while Democrats turn out their base cheaper, and with more certainty,” Adams wrote.  “A ‘moderate’ voter costs more to persuade than a far fringe ideological leftist. Even a usually politically unmotivated welfare recipient is cheaper to get to the polls than a ‘moderate’ and ‘thoughtful’ undecided moderate who speaks in terms of ‘voting for the candidate on issues and not the party.'”

In 2012, GOP nominee Mitt Romney spent millions of dollars attempting to persuade these “thoughtful moderates” to turn out for him, while Barack Obama focused his effort on turning out his core constituencies in key swing states.  Romney’s rush to the middle not only failed to earn him the support he needed, it also alienated his conservative base – suppressing the very voters that should have been the most motivated to support him.

MRF’s Bill Wilson has written previously on how the left’s technological superiority and ability to turn out its base has continued to impact races beyond 2012 – most notably the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial race.  Count on us to continue following these developments as the 2014 midterm elections approach.