The tainted data mining firm helped the GOP flip the Colorado Senate in 2014.
Cambridge Analytica, the disgraced data mining firm that helped propel Trump to the White House in 2016, scored one of its first big political wins in Colorado in 2014.
Two years before Jared Kushner brought the firm into the Trump campaign, the now-notorious company helped Republicans win control of the Colorado Senate by creating personality and psychological profiles of 136,00 voters in the state, which allowed the GOP to specifically target people prior to going to the polls.
Cambridge Analytica pocketed more than $400,000 in payments from Colorado Republicans, who hired the company to focus on five state Senate races back in 2014, in districts 16, 19, 20, 22, and 24. Republicans won three of those races and gained control of the General Assembly’s upper chamber for the first time in a decade.
In one of the contests that Cambridge Analytica was hired for, Republican candidate Beth Martinez Humenik won by just 900 votes. She defeated Democrat Judy Solano. “My race was supposed to be the safe race,” Solano recently recalled, after hearing about Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in the 2014 race.
Humenik is now up for re-election, and her seat is seen as a pivotal one as Democrats focus on five key races in a major push to flip the Senate back to blue this year.
The race to control the Colorado Senate is viewed as a toss-up.
Today though, as Republicans scramble to maintain their one-seat control of the Senate, and try to do it against the backdrop of widespread Trump backlash, the GOP won’t have Cambridge Analytica to use as a weapon against its opponents.
The British-based firm was shuttered in May after The New York Times and The Observer of London revealed that Cambridge Analytica had improperly obtained Facebook data from nearly 90 million people. Facebook’s CEO was forced to take out full-page newspaper ads, in two continents, to apologize for the massive privacy breach.
The unauthorized data included user “likes,” information from profiles, personality surveys, and details about friend networks.
Later, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie testified before Congress that the GOP-friendly firm, backed by wealthy donor Robert Mercer, not only used Facebook data harvested without permission to create detailed voter profiles in order to spur people to the polls, but also offered “voter disengagement” as one of its services.
In April, just weeks before it was forced to shut down, the shady data firm was still reaching out to Colorado Republicans and offering to help them win “however we can.”
And now, with just over month to go until the election, that’s a weapon Republicans probably wish they could employ.
The voter profiles helped determine “who may respond well to messages that scare them,” the Denver Post reported.
Scaring people appears to be exactly what Cambridge Analytica helped Colorado Republicans do in 2014, working with the party to produce as many as 80 different mailers, some of which were memorable for their deranged campaign messages.
“I clearly remember those because they were very deceitful and beyond the scope of even normal negative advertising, saying that I supported gender-specific abortions,” recalled Democratic state Senator Andy Kerr, whose race was targeted by Cambridge Analytica.
This time around, if Republicans want to maintain control of the Senate in Colorado, they’re going to have to do it without the tainted help of Cambridge Analytica.