Political targeting involves identifying what group or groups of people a candidate wishes to appeal to the most and then working to get those votes. Depending on the election, area, and issue, different groups will be targeted by a candidate.
Traditionally, there are specific groups or areas that Republicans and Democrats target more than others. Plenty of data available on voter demographics shows which candidate the majority of a single group voted for in the election.
How do you use political targeting?
Originally, political targeting involved candidates making personal appearances in various places with potential supporters and presenting their best self to those voters. Now, there are so many voters all over the country that this technique could not have a substantial benefit. Candidates still rely on making appearances at large events and organizing rallies, but media has become the biggest way to target voters.
Deciding which demographic you want to appeal to and then crafting messages for them is the most efficient way of using political targeting in modern elections. Much more strategy goes into modern political targeting, with campaigns utilizing advertising and research to find out the best ways to appeal to their desired group.
How did Donald Trump use it to his advantage?
In the 2016 election, President Donald Trump used political targeting to win. While Democrats pandered to their usual groups, many voters felt it was disingenuous and looked to an alternative political candidate.
Trump and his team knew their target audience was white, middle-class Americans who felt they have been overlooked in previous years. The Trump campaign also searched out new or undecided voters, which led to his success with the silent majority, the group of people who do not frequently vote or openly express their opinions.
Trump was able to target these groups by acknowledging their desire for change and need to have more financial stability, and also their desire for security, whether abroad or in the United States. By using carefully crafted advertisements, commercials, and speeches, Trump and his team appealed to these groups and won the election.