They'd already succeeded in getting a Green Party candidate on the ballot to drain liberal votes from Holt (a favorite GOP trick). And they had already put Raymond's firm to work calling Green-oriented households and urging them to support the Green candidate.
[Tom Blakely from Jamestown Associates] called me up and asked, "How do you guys find voice talent?"
"Well, I've got a whole catalog of different voices on CDs. I've got 'single Northeastern female,' I've got 'Southern belle' -- what are you looking for?"
"We're targeting Democrats of Eastern European descent using a surname select and geopolitical filter."
"Oh," I said, quickly doing the polarizing-voter math in my head. "How about 'angry black man'?"
"Yeah, that sounds good. What's his voice sound like?"
So I cued up one particular actor's CD on my computer and put the phone to the speaker. The track I played was one in which the actor was deliberately playing up a street gang character.
After listening for a few seconds, Blakely said, "That's the guy!"
So we had the actor record a spot over the telephone saying, "I'm calling as a Democrat, asking you to vote for the Democratic nominee. We need your vote for Holt."
I'm not saying that all Eastern European whites are racists, but, no matter where or when an election is held, there is a always a cultural divide that you can rely on. The message was "I'm ghetto black calling you, racist Ukrainian guy, and scaring the crap out of you because you probably think that if you don't vote for the Democrat I'm going to come to your house and take care of some business."
The calls were extremely highly targeted, household by household, no message ever left on an answering machine. We wanted the message heard only by people whose reaction would be "I'm not voting for Holt because he uses scary black men to call my house."
We made calls to Democratic union households supporting Zimmer, taped by actors putting on thick Spanish accents, figuring union workers were the voters who felt most threatened by immigration. The objective was to get them to throw up their hands and stay home on Election Day. We were just forcing those people to make a decision that was true to who they really were. If you want to question someone's character, look to the people who stayed home because of those calls.