'CATALIST': Obama's Database for Fundamentally Transforming America

The Democrats and the institutional left have a new political tool that allows them virtually to ignore moderates yet still win elections.

This tool, the Catalist database, was employed in the 2012 election. That election defied conventional wisdom: Mitt Romney sought and won independent voters overwhelmingly, but still lost. If you wondered why the conventional wisdom about independents and moderates didn't seem so wise in 2012, the answer is Catalist.

Beyond winning elections, Catalist also allows the Democrats to turn the policy narrative upside down and suffer no political consequence for implementing radical policies which appeal to their base. The Obama administration’s lurch to the far left without consequence can be understood by understanding Catalist. Obama thrives politically by satisfying his base. Simply, Catalist is a game changer not just for politics, but for policy. It is the left’s machinery for fundamentally transforming America.

And candidates, organizations, strategists, and consultants who do not understand what they are up against in Catalist risk being overrun.

I'll explain how it works in a moment. I had the opportunity to explore the functionality and architecture of Catalist in a way few -- if any -- others on the opposite side of Catalist have had, and what I discovered sure explains a lot about the last six years.

No longer are Democrats anchored to the preferences of Americans in the middle. Bill Clinton’s triangulation is as obsolete as color film and bag phones. Obama has pushed policies far outside the mainstream, and even far outside popular will, but succeeded in wringing out an Electoral College majority in 2012 because of Catalist.

Unfortunately, Republicans have no functioning counterpart data tool to Catalist. They have multiple and competing shells of Catalist, but they have nothing on the collaborative scale as Catalist, largely due to the fact that Republicans won’t collaborate and are fiercely territorial of their competing data sets. Democrats and the institutional left, in contrast, have created a collaborative and fully integrated system that allows them to ignore the middle while extracting unprecedented turnout from a micro-targeted, ideologically far-left base.

Catalist is an example of the consultant, profit-driven culture of the GOP being beaten by the messianic crusader culture of the left.

Next: two examples demonstrate the power of the institutional left’s data tools.