The Nation: Sorry, Wrong Number

In theory, the technique sounds like a natural for candidates seeking office in the electronic age. Rent a computer. Cram it with the names, telephone numbers and demographic particulars of a million or so voters. Feed in recorded messages by the candidate, slanting each pitch to appeal to a different ethnic or social group. Plug in a bank of telephones. Push a few buttons. And bleep, whir, dingaling, the machines tirelessly canvass the constituency with "personalized" calls (TIME, Jan. 10).

In practice, however, the computer phone banks have blown a few fuses. For...

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