OREGON: If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you have a cookie on your computer or your smartphone that says how much you like weed—or at least how you feel about the idea of weed being legalized.
The cookie reflects a score that was calculated for you by CampaignGrid, a digital advertising company that has spent the last five years creating a database with information on over 120 million potential voters. It then uses this information to determine the likelihood of a given voter being pro-legalization. The higher your score, the more likely your opinion on pot is favorable. If you’re young, make over $85,000 and live in Maryland, your score is probably 85 or so. If you are registered as a Republican in a sparsely populated town in Wyoming, your score is likely lower than 50.
These scores weren’t just calculated for fun; they were used to get out the vote for legalization in Oregon, Florida and Alaska, all states where pro-marijuana groups had hired CampaignGrid to help them win over voters. If you lived in one of those states, and your score indicated you were likely in favor of legalization, you would have seen ads as you surfed the Internet that encouraged you to leave the hotbox and get to the ballot box. If your score was in a range that indicated you were “persuadable” on the issue, pro-legalization groups would have targeted you with ads about the benefits of marijuana, doctors’ assurances that it’s safe, and testimonials from people who want to be able to use it for medical reasons. If you had a low score … *crickets.*
Brian Franklin, a political consultant at Impact Politics, which was pushing medical marijuana in Florida for United for Care, says that his organization surveyed voters and found evidence the online ads had an effect on those who were undecided in the lead-up to the election. “People who were predicted to be undecided voters were moved by online ads,” said Franklin. “We hit who we wanted to hit and the ads were effective.”