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What's That Database Worth?

Laura Meckler of the Wall Street Journal investigates the value and possible future uses of President Obama’s massive “data trove.”  Here’s a quick rundown of the data at stake:

Mr. Obama’s campaign collected 13.5 million email addresses in the 2008 election, according to people who worked on the effort. Officials say the list has grown since then, but officials won’t say by how much.

The campaign also has lists of volunteers, including the names of neighborhood team leaders who were the most active supporters. A donor database has names of millions of people who made small campaign contributions. Campaigns aren’t legally required to report the names of people who give less than $200 total, and these donors haven’t been made public.

Meckler reports that Obama’s staff plans to enlist supporters’ help in getting the President’s agenda passed, but is still debating what to do with the data over the long-term.  Staff are considering giving the data to the DNC or creating a new organization to house and update the data. “It goes stale,” said Laura Quinn, the president of Catalist, a Democratic data firm. “You have to continue to use it, synthesize it, store it, house it. It’s expensive. It’s quite a big enterprise.”

Freakonomics readers, what do you think?  What’s the best use of Obama’s massive database?