THE VICTORY LAB

THE VICTORY LAB
-ELECTIONS ARE DECIDED BY CHARISMATIC PERSONALITIES ,STRATEGIC MANEUVERS ,THE POWER OF RHETORIC , THE ZEITGEIST OF THE POLITICAL MOMENT .
-MANY STRATEGISTS HED BEEN BELIEVERS THAT BIG THINGS ARE ALL THAT MATTERS IN CAMPAIGN .After 2000 , for the first time a lot of people who shared that sentiment started to believe that there is a lot that can be done on the margins .
FINDING NEW WAYS FOR PEOPLE TO VOTE . THEY SEND VOTERS A COPY OF THEIR OWN PUBLIC VOTE HISTORIES , ALONG WITH THEIR NEIGBORS ; AND A THREAT TO DELIVER AN UPDATED SET AFTER THE ELCTION .
TODD ROGERS , ALWAYS LIKE TO REMIND PEOPLE THAT THESE BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE INTERVENTIONS COULDNOT ALTER A RACE FUNDAMENTAL DYNAMICS .NO TECHNIQUE COULD DO THAT; A GOOD CANDIDATE OR A BAD ECONOMY WOULD STILL SET THE CONDITIONS OF AN ELECTION. BUT EXPERIMENTAL INSIGHTS COULD DECIDE A CLOSE RACE POLITICAL MAIL HAS BEEN THE LEAST GLAMOROUS OF ALL THE VOERS CONCT TOOLS .Compared with media advertising it has the ability to hit a preselected individual with precision . People want information , they do not want advertising .
OVER THE LAST DECADE , PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN INSTITUTIONS – BIG BUSINESS , CHURCH ,MEDIA , GOVERNMENT , HAS DECLINED DRANATICALLY . THE POLITICAL CONVERSATION HAS PRIVILEGE THE NASTY AND TRIVIAL .Finally campaigns are learning to quantify the ineffable – the value of a neighbor’s knock , of a stranger
call ,the delicate condition of being undecided – and isolate the moment where a behavior can be changed , or a hart won. Campaigns have started treating voters like people again .
Getting out the vote 1927
Non-Voting :Causes and Methods of Control 1924
In 1948, most pollsters flubbed their electoral predictions – leading to the Chicago Tribune’s morning- after “ Dewey Defeats Truman “ front page – because they stopped talking to voters in the race’s closing weeks , therefore failing to pick up on a later movement toward the incumbent .
Did your coworkers’ opinion influence you?
Should one vote , if his party cannot win ?
“The Responsible Electorate “ V.O. Key Jr. argued that many voters were “switchers” rationally alternating between parties each election to find the candidate closest to them on the issues .
Popkin says when it came the time to choose a candidate , the voters relied on short-cuts .They interpreted symbols and looked for cues where they could find them , and then extrapolated . Popkin favored example wsa when voters saw Gerald Ford fail to shuck a tamale before biting into it , they interpreted it as a sign that he did not understand issues facing Latinos .Popkin called “gut reasoning “.
“ The Reasoning Voter “ Popkin 1991 .
It’s the all time question of every defense department in the world : army versus air force . No one has any idea of the value of the ad versus a phone call from a friend .If you have a dollar to spend , do you spend it on a ad or do you spend it on a phone call ? And if you only have money to spend on ads , do you give one person fifty ads or two people twenty-five ? NOBODY KNOWS.
Matt Reese refined the far less glamorous art of turning out voters .” You go where the cherries is . “ I wish God gave green noses to undecided voters , because between now and election eve , I’d work only on green noses .I wish God gave purple ears to non-voters for my candidate on election eve , because on election day I’d work only the purple voters “.
Consultants have become possible because of the decline of the political parties . Reese later explained in a interview , “ and the consultants has made the parties even more irrelevant “.
In 1924 a national Party Convention was first broadcast live by Radio .
In the 1940s, a President retained a pollster to have his own personal accounts of public opinion.
In the 1950s , candidates hired Madison Avenue agencies to draft their TV ads .
But when it came to finding voters and bring then to the polls , it was still 1840 .
There were enough Republicans to get you close , but if you get all the Republicans out there you could never win says Barabba . “ So you had to get swing voters “
Political operatives have long thought of winning a vote as a three-step process .First , voters need to be registered . Then come persuation, the challenge of emerging as the preferred choice among two or more candidates . Finally once a person has been registered and persuaded , the campaign has to convert that support into a vote ; mobilizing him or her to the polls through get-out-the-vote operations
In Philadelphia they dobbed it “ Knock and drag “; in the black counties of rural Virginia it was “ hauling and calling”.
The National Committee for an Effective Congress NCEC applied three key formulas to any precint in the country .First , a Democratic performance index , an estimate of how an average democratic candidate would fare on the ballot . It was a useful indicator of which party controlled the turf ; anything over 50% was a Democratic-friendly area. Also calculated “ persuation percent “ measured how much an area swing between parties due to cross over votes . A third formula , the “ GOTV percent” , measured the volatility of turnout ; how much did the number of people who actually voted shift from year to year . A campaign no longer neede to resources to count every single person ; it could just play the averages .
The term “ political consultant “ was coined by Joseph Napolitan , who designed his first television ad in 1957 ,f or a mayoral candidate in Springfield Massachusetts , and oversaw much of the strategy for Hubert Humprey’s Presidential campaign eleven years later . By 1972 , Napolitan was defending his neologism “ To me a political consultant is a specialist in political communication , he wrote in 1972 his book The Election Game and How to Win It .
In 1990 Malchow in George Wahsington University taking night classes was introduced to CHAID , a statistical technique designed to locate relationships among large number of potentially intersecting variables at once .( It stands for Chi-Square Automatic Interaction Detector ) CHAID software on a desktop computer was arrange as a decision tree ; click on a population of men and will sprout a series of branches showing their views broken down by race , each of which can be clicked subdivided those groups by income – all the way until the smallest sliver of the electoral can be revealed .
Malchow’s way of viewing the electorate , as a congeries of people rather than a patchwork of precints , was anathema .
The development of the political consulting profession means tha campaigns were filled with an ever increasing number of specialists all fighting to expand their slice of a limited pie . Everyone had an interest in promoting their own tool and whatever theory of the electorate helped to make a case for t5heir tactics . For the phone vendor , more phone calls were the natural solution; for the media consultant , a bigger buy would always do the trick ..
The economist Gordon Tullock wrote in his 1976 book “ The Motive “ , “ voters and consumers are essentially the same people “ . Mr Smith buys and votes ; he is the same man in the supermarket an in the voting booth . By the time Green start teaching in 1989 such thinking was pervasive among his peers . Watching people playing Octi illustrate Green what he already believed about their behavior . Even in the board game , people were incapable of logical assessing all of their choices and making their optical decision each time .. Green coauthor a book title ‘ Pathologies of Rational Choice Theory “In which he argued that the ascendant movement in political science rested on a series of assumptions that had not been adequately demonstrated through any real world research
Just as Green was coming to question his discipline , some political scientist had begun to conclude that the whole political- consulting profession was a farce . With half a century of rich electoral data and ever measurements of national conditions , researches had thought that they could explain presidential outcomes with a basic set of facts – primarily which party held power and how the economy fared while they did. Ads , debates , candidates speeches, and election organizing were mere spectacle at the margins of a predetermined outcome . The debate was summarized by an unusually question ; Do campaigns matters ?. The more time Gerber spent within Mellman’s polling operation , the more he appreciated that political scientist themselves lacked the tools to ever arrive at a convincing answer .
Political operatives had been trained to view political scientist with skepticism , even hostility .They saw academics as intellectual snobs with no practical experiences conjuring abstract models on college campus far removed from the chaos and urgency of real campaigns . A lot of what gets done on campaigns gets done on the basis of anecdotal evidence , which often comes down to who is a very storyteller .Who tells the a better story about what works and what does not work ? says Christopher Mann .
The next campaign would be a “ motivation election “ as Dowd put it in the first strategy memo of Bush’s reelection campaign. Swing voters had entranced presidential strategist for a generation . Dowd thought , but those mercurial centrists were shrinking in numbers . a new premium should be placed on finding and mobilizing those who already identified with Republicans . It would be easier to grow Bush’s market share by expanding his base than by chasing new votes in the middle .
Dowd was interested in a debate over issue message and strategy . but he thought there were more basic matters to address . How could Republicans tailor narrow messages to their base if they did not know , in individual terms , who the members of their base were ?. And how would they deliver those messages if the party has no protocols for voter contact ?. Republican s, he decided , had to figure out what made people vote . “ I heard enough of these stories , but where’s the fucking data ?
Richer data Hazelwood explained to her crowd , would only make the targeting sharper . “ Knowing where a voter lives , how old they are , what gender , those things are very important . But nothing is as important as understanding what they really care about “. She said . To accomplish this , we need better information on more voters . This can be done , but it will take a team effort and a lot of people willing to give some time .
Two of the eight items on Hazelwwod “ Prescription for Victory “ check list drew Alex Gage attention. One was the need for “ sharper targeting “of messages by phone and mail ; the other was “ voter identification “ where Republicans need more efficient methods . Gage said I have the best of both world . I got to follow a brilliant tactician from the back of the room , and I got to work with the best pure researcher in the business “
Rolling nightly samples became known as “ tracking polls”. Later Gage developed handheld “ perceptions analyzers “ which allowed researchers to monitor a viewer’s instantaneous response to words and images by turning a dial to reflect support or disapproval . Mike Murphy a Michigan media consultant said they were not a polling firm , they were a research firm that used polling .
Murphy had been lead strategist on John MacCain’s 2000 race and was now playing a similar role for MITT Romney .
Kennedy’s advisers knew they have two strong options ; they could ignore religious questions altogether or they could address the subject directly and condemn as bigots those who would let Kennedy’s faith affect their vote . Kennedy said “ I believe ia an America where a religious intolerance someday end , where there is no catholic vote , no anti-catholic vote , no block of any kind “.
“ The People Choice : How Voter Makes Up His Mind in a Presidential Campaign” , Lazerfeld and his collegues were surprised that the centralized forces they expected to play a direct role in driving decisions – specially the party organizations , as mediated by television and radio – proved to have a miger impact . Voters arrived at an election season with existing “ brand loyalties “ to parties , derived from the religious and class context in which they lived and reinforced by the influence of peers . likening voting to a “ group experience “ , Lazerfeld was ready to altogether abandon the analogy to consumer choice that has first drawn him to study electoral politics . “ For many voters political preferences may better be considered analogous to cultural tastes – in music
,literature , recreational activities , dress , ethics , speech , social behavior. “ “Lazerfeld , Berelson and McPhee” later wrote . Both are characterized more by faith than by conviction and by wishful expectation rather than careful prediction of consequences . Through out the 1950s , the so called Columbia Studies dueled with the Michigan Studies for primacy as a universal model of voting behavior .
Pool may have been able to disassembly the electorate into macroscopic pieces , but the tools for speaking to voters _ national advertising , broadcast television , and speeches covered by metropolitan and regional newspapers – still existed only on a macro scale . Simulmatics had a good idea of knowing what a small-city , catholic, Democratic , lower-income woman was likely to think of tax policy , but it offered no guidance to a campaign that wanted to locate members of that category and speak to them directly . In 1962 , the US Postal service rolled out its Zone Improvement Plan ZIP , which split the country into 36,000 zones .
Robbin’s Claritas Cluster System used the arbitrary lines to fence people in by their common lifestyle traits . Robbin’s computers assigned each Zip code to one of forty different clusters. Which he gave colorful names . Robbin soon became known as the “ King of the Zip Codes” . In 1978 he persuaded Matt Reese that his cluster could be used for politics . Reese and Eddie Mahe Jr . a former RNC deputy chairman and leading republican consultant joined forces to become biparti evangelists for cluster in Washington By the end of 1980 Reese and Mahe had let their Claritas franchise expire . While Claritas worked very well for selling Sonys and Mercedes or Toyotas , they did not work very well for the politics . They did not descriminate that well , says pollster Mark Mellman .The thruth is the political purposes from one election to another may vary .
Between 1983 and 2004 , with advances in computing , the amount of data Axciom was able to store increased a millionfold , and the company used every byte to fill out one of its personal portraits of an American with a new brushstroke of data . The RNC had assembled the country’s first national voter file
in 1990. If Gage merged Axciom’s personal dossiers with the RNC voter file . he could use that as the base for polling calls ,picking names off the file instead of dialing random digits . Then he would not have to waste polling time asking people how much money they made or what job they had – Axciom already had categories that knew the answer to those questions , or at least predicted them based on information it did have . The polling questions could stick generally to political matters , taking in respondents’ views of issues and personalities in the news .Because his grouping would not be defined by geography . Gage preferred to call them “ segments” instead of clusters . In early 2003 , Gage return to Dowd , this time with PowerPoints slides that refer to the method as “ Microtargeting “ Gage thought this was an improvement over super –segmentation .” We have to find out who is more likely to be a republican “ says Gage “ We know they’re in there somewhere “.Gage invented an index he called “ consideration “a ten point scale predicting how likely a voter would be to “ consider voting for Mitt Romney “
In many ways , Rove should have been an ideal consumer for micro-targeting . Previous political strategist in the Oval Office had been pollsters , media consultant , or campaign managers ; he was the first presidential consigliere to have a background working in voter contact .
Caddy Johnson the campaign field director ( Bush ), travel the country to tell senior staff party officials that their targeting method, which usually focused on their strongest precincts , were no longer to be supported by the RNC .” We are not mailing them , we are not going to call them , and we are not buying radio in their neighborhoods “ , Johnson would explain . “ Here is how we are going to do it “ He brought PowerPoint slides of the Pennsylvania micro-targeting project , and would flip to a Stay-at-Home Independents segment : families in suburban areas that might not be loyal Republicans or even regular voters but that the algorithms showed would be ripe targets for Bush . “ That is who we are targeting “ said Johnson “ We are not going after the fifty-year –old man who’s voteds in every primary and caucus in the last twenty years .”
Dowd asked Fred Steeper for what the survey taker called a “ Mobilization Poll “ , focused only on one piece of the electorate . What issues or themes could Bush use to push loyal Republicans to the ballot box on his behalf ?. Traditionally , polls asked people to process politics analytically , but from what Steeper had witnessed in campaigns it seemed that the issues that really drove elections were the ones that pushed voters emotionally . Steeper decide he would just ask them directly “ how pissed off they were “ as he put it – a hunt for what he thought of as their “ anger points “. Another Bush adviser asked why the poll did not investigate voter’s emotional responses to the administration succeses , Gage called these “ pleasure points “ .
elgarresta@msn.com