Oct 12, 2019

New way to track voters: Their smartphones

President Trump at a Sept. 9 MAGA rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A Republican PAC that supports President Trump's re-election campaign plans to use location data from voters' smartphones "to find people who may not be registered to vote" in about 6 swing states before 2020, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: This technique — called "geofencing" — was used by 2020 Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke during his 2018 Senate race, WSJ reports, and by CatholicVote, a conservative political advocacy group.

What's happening: The Committee to Defend the President "hired a company to collect unique identification numbers" from MAGA rally attendees' smartphones in North Carolina last month, per the WSJ —to create targeted ads that would drive people to the polls.

Between the lines, via the WSJ: "Political campaigns have long compiled exhaustive lists of all registered voters from state offices or other groups. They later supplemented that with demographic and purchasing information from data brokers in an approach called 'microtargeting' that has been used for years. Now detailed information gathered from smartphones is adding a new dimension to those techniques."

Go deeper: Political Campaigns Know Where You’ve Been. They’re Tracking Your Phone.

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The free speech election

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

One of the issues being hotly debated among presidential candidates and political operatives leading up to the 2020 campaign isn't health care, or the economy — it's free speech.

Why it matters: Disagreements about how to apply the First Amendment to the speed and scale of social media are consuming the political debate this election cycle and cementing unprecedented levels of polarization.

Go deeperArrowNov 5, 2019

A fracking ban could be a dicey proposal for Democrats in 2020

Data: KFF and The Cook Political Report; Note: Margin of sampling error for Democrat voters: ±3%, Swing voters ±4%; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New polling of four battleground states shows the Green New Deal concept is highly popular, while calls to ban hydraulic fracturing could create political headwinds.

The big picture: Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have embraced both ideas, while Joe Biden has not called for a fracking ban.

Go deeperArrowNov 8, 2019

Beto O'Rourke "cannot fathom" running for public office if he's not 2020 nominee

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke told Politico that he "cannot fathom" a situation where he would run for public office again if he doesn't win the Democratic presidential nomination.

Why it matters: O'Rourke has long faced pressure from Democratic activists to abandon his low-polling presidential bid — which has seen diminishing fundraising in 2019 — and run for Senate in his home state of Texas. It's worth noting that he similarly ruled out a presidential bid last year, unequivocally telling CBS' "60 Minutes" that he wouldn't be in the 2020 race.

Go deeper: Beto O'Rourke's 2020 relaunch still targets Trump instead of Senate

Keep ReadingArrowOct 15, 2019