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Wed Dec 26, 2012, 12:36 PM

Labor beat Prop. 32 via social media


Leaders of the California unions that spent $75 million to defeat Proposition 32's union-busting campaign in November discovered something during the bruising battle: 40 percent of likely voters were not watching any Prop. 32-related TV commercials, even though the spots droned on nonstop throughout the fall.

So the forces opposed to the measure, which would have banned the use of union payroll deductions for political contributions, changed tactics.

Fusing a sophisticated data-mining operation with messages sent through social media platforms such as Facebook, the unions changed how they were singling out voters younger than 40 who don't watch TV. Within weeks, they saw support for their position among younger voters climb from 40 percent to 60 percent.


After the election, the labor group has continued to gather information on Californians, unlike past campaigns when they typically folded their operations within weeks after election day.

"We have a bad habit in campaigns," said Larry Grisolano, one of the Obama campaign's top advisers who consulted with the labor federation two years ago on how to create the new approach to profiling voters. "After the election, you turn out the lights, you fold up the tents and the residual value of what you did is not even collected because the mission is done - the election is over."

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