Episode 915: How To Meddle In An Election : Planet Money In which someone runs a science experiment on an actual election, on actual voters, to test the persuasive power of ethically sketchy methods.
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Episode 915: How To Meddle In An Election

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Episode 915: How To Meddle In An Election

Episode 915: How To Meddle In An Election

Episode 915: How To Meddle In An Election

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/726536757/726852480" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Voters exit a polling station in Gallant, Alabama during the special election to decide who will replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Voters exit a polling station in Gallant, Alabama during the special election to decide who will replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Today on the show, how to meddle in an election, step by step.

David Goldstein worked in politics for decades, always for the Democrats, and mostly on digital strategy. But after 2016, David felt like the rules for elections had fundamentally changed.

The tactics of one company in particular worried him: Cambridge Analytica. It claimed it had developed new methods for targeting and persuading voters in increasingly personalized, intimate ways. To David, this was a threat to democracy. So, to prove just how much of a threat it was, David decided to mess with democracy himself. And maybe help his own party along the way.

And when we say he wanted to prove there's a threat, we mean it. He ran a science experiment on actual voters, in an actual election, with control groups and treatment groups, statistics, all of it.

Now he's talking about the methods and the results.

Music: "The Spaghetti Westerner" and "Dysfunction Instrumental."

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