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If Obama Wins, This Will Be A Big Reason Why...extremely Important Article For Understanding Elections Today.


Leon Troutsky
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I'm usually loathe to make new threads about topics being discussed elsewhere, but I thought this article by Sasha Issenberg is one of the most insightful and important articles about the hidden campaign that nobody is talking about:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/victory_lab/2012/10/obama_s_secret_weapon_democrats_have_a_massive_advantage_in_targeting_and.single.html

It is very long, but again is required reading for anyone who wants to truly understand one of the most important aspects of modern campaigns. Essentially, Issenberg compares the persuasion and turnout strategies used by Obama and Romney, finding that Obama is using more current methods from social science (randomized experiments) while Romney is using the microtargeting techniques developed by Rove/Bush in the 2000 election.

I have noticed that locally Obama is running a more sophisticated ground game than Romney, but wasn't sure if that was true nationally until Issenberg's article.

I would also add that Issenberg's book titled "The Victory Lab" is also an extremely important text for anyone who wants to know how modern campaigns really operate.

The article is well worth the time it will take to read through it.

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Another article about the advantage Obama appears to have in voter contact this year:

Obama Campaign: We've Contacted One Out Of Every 2.5 People In The Country

Posted: 11/03/2012 6:23 pm EDT Updated: 11/03/2012 6:34 pm EDT

WASHINGTON -- Up to this point in the election, the Obama campaign has offered a general outline of its field operation while insisting that it didn't want to give the full details out of fear of tipping off the competition.

On Saturday afternoon, the campaign offered a fuller memo than before with some top-line stats that (if accurate) underscore the historic nature of the ground-game in place. The campaign said it has registered 1,792,261 voters in key battleground states, "nearly double the number of voters the Obama campaign registered in 2008."

The memo also claims that the campaign has made 125,646,479 personal phone calls or visits up to this weekend (that doesn't include things like robocalls and leaving literature on doors). If that number is accurate, then the campaign has contacted roughly one out of every 2.5 people in the entire country since the last election. It also blows away the 50 million voter contacts the Romney campaign has claimed, and that campaign included mailers left at doors.

There is always a grain of salt needed when considering these numbers. A campaign, after all, doesn't put out a memo that isn't completely flattering of that campaign. And as the Romney campaign quickly pointed out, public opinion polls have showed voters saying they've been contacted about equally by both campaigns.

“If the Obama campaign spent half the time trying to get people back to work as they do spinning reporters on why they’re going to win this election, the unemployment rate might not have gone up," said Rich Beeson, the Romney campaign's political director. "That said, it doesn’t matter how many offices you have, staff you hire, or ground game plans you have -– you need a candidate who can tell the American people why things will be better, not worse, after four years of their leadership."

That may not be completely true. The apparatus that each campaign uses to bring out voters in the next 72 hours seems likely to determine the election. And the Obama campaign does seem well positioned. In Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina and Nevada, the president's aides claim to have brought out 1.4 million voters who didn't cast ballots during the midterm elections compared with 840,000 non-midterm Republican voters. These "sporadic" voters are vital to erasing the supposed-enthusiasm gap that Obama has suffered in the polls.

In addition, this weekend, the president's campaign is deploying an army of volunteers to help ensure that as many supporters as possible cast votes. Campaign manager Jim Messina said there would be 5,100 Get Out The Vote stations in battleground states operational on Tuesday. In addition, the campaign has commitments from 700,000 volunteers to do GOTV shifts before the election.

"Unlike campaigns of the past, our volunteers are not driving to some large office miles from their homes and handed a phone and a call sheet," the memo concludes. "Instead, Canvass Captains, Phone Bank Captains and scores of local volunteers will be knocking on the doors of the very voters they registered, have been talking to for months and know personally. And they will be directing them to polling locations in their communities – the schools their kids go to, the places of worship they attend each week and community centers they know well."

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Can you summarize the two techniques for the lazy but interested among us?!?

I assume you're talking about microtargeting versus the experimental methods, right? If so, then here's the Reader's Digest version.

Microtargeting: Involves collecting massive datasets of consumer information like grocery store purchases that are tracked when you use those discount cards and then matching these files up to voter registration and voting history files kept by the state. Essentially, you use data mining statistical models to predict which voters are most likely to vote Republican/Democrat, how likely they are to vote, and what issues they care most about. Then you use these predictions to tailor your contact information to that specific voter's or household's preferences. Thus, someone that the model claims cares most about the economy and is leaning Republican will get a mailer from the Romney campaign talking about deficits and jobs.

Experimental research: This is not mutually exclusive to microtargeting, but it involves running randomized experiments to determine the effectiveness of each campaign tactic or strategy. The most common and publicly discussed one involves yard signs versus canvassing, where we know that canvassing has the largest effect and yard signs have virtually no effect on turnout. But the Obama campaign also conducted an experiment about a month ago where they randomly assigned different messages to actual voters and then measured the effect of these messages on the likelihood that they would volunteer. They then obviously used the pitch that was most effective. There are statistical models used to predict people's tendencies underlying these experiments, but the important point is that the experiments are a more efficient way to determine what works and what doesn't.

Romney is almost exclusively using microtargeting, at least that appears to be the case by all indications. Obama is using the more sophisticated and effective experimental designs and they appear to be using their resources more strategically.

One example involves organizing in Kansas. To my knowledge, Romney doesn't have a single campaign office in the entire state while Obama has one or two. The Obama people are targeting likely volunteers to make phone calls and canvass...in Colorado. IOW, Obama is using its supporters in Kansas to try to influence the outcome in Colorado. When Hurricane Sandy hit, however, that shut down a lot of their servers on the East Coast and they lost a lot of volunteers in New York who were making calls into Ohio. The next day, all of the Republican Western states that were doing operations in Colorado were redirected to making calls into Ohio to supplement the lost volunteers in New York. As far as I know, these Republican Western states are now back to directing their resources and energy in Colorado again.

You don't see that kind of strategic and sophisticated thinking inside the Romney campaign, again at least as far as I can tell. That's why Sasha Issenberg's article is so important...it points out that there appears to be a somewhat large asymmetry in the two campaign's ground games that appears to favor Obama. We'll see if it's true and whether it's enough for Obama to win, but as I said earlier, IF he wins this will be a major reason why.

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Another article about the advantage Obama appears to have in voter contact this year:

Obama Campaign: We've Contacted One Out Of Every 2.5 People In The Country

Posted: 11/03/2012 6:23 pm EDT Updated: 11/03/2012 6:34 pm EDT

WASHINGTON -- Up to this point in the election, the Obama campaign has offered a general outline of its field operation while insisting that it didn't want to give the full details out of fear of tipping off the competition.

On Saturday afternoon, the campaign offered a fuller memo than before with some top-line stats that (if accurate) underscore the historic nature of the ground-game in place. The campaign said it has registered 1,792,261 voters in key battleground states, "nearly double the number of voters the Obama campaign registered in 2008."

The memo also claims that the campaign has made 125,646,479 personal phone calls or visits up to this weekend (that doesn't include things like robocalls and leaving literature on doors). If that number is accurate, then the campaign has contacted roughly one out of every 2.5 people in the entire country since the last election. It also blows away the 50 million voter contacts the Romney campaign has claimed, and that campaign included mailers left at doors.

There is always a grain of salt needed when considering these numbers. A campaign, after all, doesn't put out a memo that isn't completely flattering of that campaign. And as the Romney campaign quickly pointed out, public opinion polls have showed voters saying they've been contacted about equally by both campaigns.

“If the Obama campaign spent half the time trying to get people back to work as they do spinning reporters on why they’re going to win this election, the unemployment rate might not have gone up," said Rich Beeson, the Romney campaign's political director. "That said, it doesn’t matter how many offices you have, staff you hire, or ground game plans you have -– you need a candidate who can tell the American people why things will be better, not worse, after four years of their leadership."

That may not be completely true. The apparatus that each campaign uses to bring out voters in the next 72 hours seems likely to determine the election. And the Obama campaign does seem well positioned. In Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina and Nevada, the president's aides claim to have brought out 1.4 million voters who didn't cast ballots during the midterm elections compared with 840,000 non-midterm Republican voters. These "sporadic" voters are vital to erasing the supposed-enthusiasm gap that Obama has suffered in the polls.

In addition, this weekend, the president's campaign is deploying an army of volunteers to help ensure that as many supporters as possible cast votes. Campaign manager Jim Messina said there would be 5,100 Get Out The Vote stations in battleground states operational on Tuesday. In addition, the campaign has commitments from 700,000 volunteers to do GOTV shifts before the election.

"Unlike campaigns of the past, our volunteers are not driving to some large office miles from their homes and handed a phone and a call sheet," the memo concludes. "Instead, Canvass Captains, Phone Bank Captains and scores of local volunteers will be knocking on the doors of the very voters they registered, have been talking to for months and know personally. And they will be directing them to polling locations in their communities – the schools their kids go to, the places of worship they attend each week and community centers they know well."

Let's test the claim that 1 out of every 2.5 people in the country were contacted by Obama's campaign. Who here was contacted by Obama's campaign?

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I think that Obama's superior ground game really showed in Colorado. They were using volunteers to make phone calls and phone bank from neighboring red states into Colorado. Romney's Colorado operations were up against Obama's operations in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas. It wasn't a fair fight.

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The news media is starting to pick up on some of these themes about how much the Obama campaign relied on academic methodology and academic research in contacting voters. This is one of about half a dozen articles that I've read related to this theme. Republicans are going to have to catch up and quickly.

Academic ‘Dream Team’ Helped Obama’s Effort

By BENEDICT CAREY

Late last year Matthew Barzun, an official with the Obama campaign, called Craig Fox, a psychologist in Los Angeles, and invited him to a political planning meeting in Chicago, according to two people who attended the session.

“He said, ‘Bring the whole group; let’s hear what you have to say,’ ” recalled Dr. Fox, a behavioral economist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

So began an effort by a team of social scientists to help their favored candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Some members of the team had consulted with the Obama campaign in the 2008 cycle, but the meeting in January signaled a different direction.

“The culture of the campaign had changed,” Dr. Fox said. “Before then I felt like we had to sell ourselves; this time there was a real hunger for our ideas.”

This election season the Obama campaign won a reputation for drawing on the tools of social science. The book “Victory Lab,” by Sasha Issenberg, and news reports have portrayed an operation that ran its own experiment and, among other efforts, consulted with the Analyst Institute, a Washington voter research group established in 2007 by union officials and their allies to help Democratic candidates.

Less well known is that the Obama campaign also had a panel of unpaid academic advisers. The group — which calls itself the “consortium of behavioral scientists,” or COBS — provided ideas on how to counter false rumors, like one that President Obama is a Muslim. It suggested how to characterize the Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, in advertisements. It also delivered research-based advice on how to mobilize voters.

“In the way it used research, this was a campaign like no other,” said Todd Rogers, a psychologist at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a former director of the Analyst Institute. “It’s a big change for a culture that historically has relied on consultants, experts and gurulike intuition.”

When asked about the outside psychologists, the Obama campaign would neither confirm nor deny a relationship with them. “This campaign was built on the energy, enthusiasm and ingenuity of thousands of grass-roots supporters and our staff in the states and in Chicago,” said Adam Fetcher, a campaign spokesman. “Throughout the campaign we saw an outpouring of individuals across the country who lent a wide variety of ideas and input to our efforts to get the president re-elected.”

For their part, consortium members said they did nothing more than pass on research-based ideas, in e-mails and conference calls. They said they could talk only in general terms about the research, because they had signed nondisclosure agreements with the campaign.

In addition to Dr. Fox, the consortium included Susan T. Fiske of Princeton University; Samuel L. Popkin of the University of California, San Diego; Robert Cialdini, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University; Richard H. Thaler, a professor of behavioral science and economics at the University of Chicago’s business school; and Michael Morris, a psychologist at Columbia.

“A kind of dream team, in my opinion,” Dr. Fox said.

He said that the ideas the team proposed were “little things that can make a difference” in people’s behavior.

For example, Dr. Fiske’s research has shown that when deciding on a candidate, people generally focus on two elements: competence and warmth. “A candidate wants to make sure to score high on both dimensions,” Dr. Fiske said in an interview. “You can’t just run on the idea that everyone wants to have a beer with you; some people care a whole lot about competence.”

Mr. Romney was recognized as a competent businessman, polling found. But he was often portrayed in opposition ads as distant, unable to relate to the problems of ordinary people.

When it comes to countering rumors, psychologists have found that the best strategy is not to deny the charge (“I am not a flip-flopper”) but to affirm a competing notion. “The denial works in the short term; but in the long term people remember only the association, like ‘Obama and Muslim,’ ” said Dr. Fox, of the persistent false rumor.

The president’s team affirmed that he is a Christian.

At least some of the consortium’s proposals seemed to have found their way into daily operations. Campaign volunteers who knocked on doors last week in swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Nevada did not merely remind people to vote and arrange for rides to the polls. Rather, they worked from a script, using subtle motivational techniques that research has shown can prompt people to take action.

“We used the scripts more as a guide,” said Sarah Weinstein, 18, a Columbia freshman who traveled with a group to Cleveland the weekend before the election. “The actual language we used was invested in the individual person.”

Simply identifying a person as a voter, as many volunteers did — “Mr. Jones, we know you have voted in the past” — acts as a subtle prompt to future voting, said Dr. Cialdini, a foundational figure in the science of persuasion. “People want to be congruent with what they have committed to in the past, especially if that commitment is public,” he said.

Many volunteers also asked would-be voters if they would sign an informal commitment to vote, a card with the president’s picture on it. This small, voluntary agreement amplifies the likelihood that the person will follow through, research has found.

In a now classic experiment, a pair of Stanford psychologists asked people if they would display in a home window a small card proclaiming the importance of safe driving. Those who agreed to this small favor were later much more likely to agree to a much larger favor, to post a large “Drive Carefully” sign on their lawn — “something no one would agree to do otherwise,” Dr. Cialdini said.

Obama volunteers also asked people if they had a plan to vote and if not, to make one, specifying a time, according to Stephen Shaw, a retired cancer researcher who knocked on doors in Nevada and Virginia in the days before the election. “One thing we’d say is that we know that when people have a plan, voting goes more smoothly,” he said.

Recent research has shown that making even a simple plan increases the likelihood that a person will follow through, Dr. Rogers, of Harvard, said.

Another technique some volunteers said they used was to inform supporters that others in their neighborhood were planning to vote. Again, recent research shows that this kind of message is much more likely to prompt people to vote than traditional campaign literature that emphasizes the negative — that many neighbors did not vote and thus lost an opportunity to make a difference.

This kind of approach trades on a human instinct to conform to social norms, psychologists say. In another well-known experiment, Dr. Cialdini and two colleagues tested how effective different messages were in getting hotel guests to reuse towels. The message “the majority of guests reuse their towels” prompted a 29 percent increase in reuse, compared with the usual message about helping the environment. The message “the majority of guests in this room reuse their towels” resulted in a 41 percent increase, he said.

Salespeople have known the value of such approaches for a generation, and political campaigns have also used them before this election. Social scientists began offering their services to Democrats back in 2004, when President George W. Bush’s campaign was attacking the Democratic nominee, Senator John Kerry, as a flip-flopper and making the label stick.

Dr. Fox and others got an audience with someone in the Kerry campaign, but the meeting didn’t lead to any active consulting, he said. The group circulated a paper outlining its members’ expertise and proposals and in 2006 got a meeting with some senators, including Hillary Rodham Clinton and Harry M. Reid.

Consortium members said they knew of no such informal advisory panel on the Republican side. Efforts to contact the Romney campaign were unsuccessful.

The researchers said they weren’t told which of their ideas were put to use, or how. But sometimes they got hints. Dr. Fiske, the Princeton psychologist, said she received a generic, mass-market e-mail from the Obama campaign before the election.

“It said, ‘People do things when they make plans to do them; what’s your plan?’ ” Dr. Fiske said. “How about that?”

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I think that Obama's superior ground game really showed in Colorado. They were using volunteers to make phone calls and phone bank from neighboring red states into Colorado. Romney's Colorado operations were up against Obama's operations in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas. It wasn't a fair fight.

Boy, you sure called that!! Months ago.

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Posting just to remember to read this thread tomm.

Be sure to read this article because it shows just how much ahead of the game Democrats are right now in the voter contact business. This is really amazing stuff:

Secret of the Obama Victory? Rerun Watchers, for One Thing

By JIM RUTENBERG

It was called “the Optimizer,” and, strategists for President Obama say it is how he beat a better-financed Republican opposition in the advertising war.

Culling never-before-used data about viewing habits, and combining it with more personal information about the voters the campaign was trying to reach and persuade than was ever before available, the system allowed Mr. Obama’s team to direct advertising with a previously unheard-of level of efficiency, strategists from both sides agree.

“Future campaigns ignore the targeting strategy of the Obama campaign of 2012 at their peril,” said Ken Goldstein, the president of Kantar Media/CMAG, a media monitoring firm that tracked and analyzed political advertising for both campaigns. “This was an unprecedented marrying of detailed information on viewing habits and political predispositions.”

One of the biggest emerging stories about the campaign that has ended is how Mr. Obama’s team used information and technology to outmatch and outwit a galvanized and incredibly well-financed opposition.

And in the days since the election new details are emerging about just how outmatched the Republicans were on the technology side, prompting a partywide re-examination of how to avoid a repeat and regain the once-fearsome tactical advantages they held in the era of President George W. Bush. They acknowledge they have their work cut out for themselves.

Romney campaign officials have said the computer-driven operation they built to monitor turnout, and to push supporters to polls in areas that were falling below vote levels needed for victory, crashed and became inoperative for a prolonged period as voting was under way.

The system was meant to combat the far more sophisticated version that Mr. Obama’s team had built over years. But Mr. Romney was distracted and financially depleted by his long primary season, and even with perfect execution, both sides agree, he never would have had the time or finances to catch up.

With so much more time to prepare, Mr. Obama’s polling and “analytics” department collected so much information about the electorate that it knew far more about which sorts of voters were going to turn out — and where — than the Romney campaign and most public pollsters.

But in between identifying likely supporters and successfully delivering them to the polls there was an intensive effort to send them a constant PIRATED VIDEO IS ILLEGAL of messages devised to keep wavering 2008 Obama supporters from succumbing to Mr. Romney’s effort to win them over, and to get unwavering supporters excited about voting.

That was where “the Optimizer” came in.

In essence, said Larry Grisolano, who helped lead the development of the system, it created a new set of ratings based on the political leanings of categories of people the Obama campaign was interested in reaching, allowing the campaign to buy its advertising on political terms as opposed to traditional television industry terms.

“We were able to create a set of ratings based on a model of our target voters, as opposed to the broader categories that are kind of defined by traditional advertising ratings,” he said.

Erik Smith, another senior strategist, said a decision by “super PACS” supporting Mr. Romney to hold off on their first major anti-Obama advertising push until well after the primaries had given the team extra time to develop its system.

Through its vast array of information collected via its e-mail list, Facebook and millions of door-to-door discussions conducted by volunteers in swing states — and fed into the campaign database — the campaign devised a ranking scale for voters ranging from likeliest to support Mr. Obama to least likely.

Then the advertising team worked backward to figure out what sorts of programs likely and undecided voters were liable to watch, and when. It did so using not only traditional Nielsen Media Research data but also newly available information from set-top cable boxes that gave a far more detailed sense of how the groups watched television, and, more important, commercials.

The answers led to advertising purchases that the campaign might not have made, especially as it pursued undecided voters who did not regularly go to traditional sources for news.

So it was, said Jim Margolis, a senior advertising strategist, that the campaign bought more late-night advertising time than it otherwise would have on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” ESPN and, most surprisingly, TV Land, the basic cable network devoted to reruns of old programs.

In the case of TV Land, Mr. Margolis said, the campaign was seeking to reach “folks who may not be as political, may not be deciding until later.”

“A lot of these people are lower-information voters,” he said, “not necessarily tuned to politics and watching a little more programming that is out of the main lane of what most of us think of.”

In the past, Mr. Margolis said, the campaign would have been less likely to advertise as much on a network like TV Land because it knew less about its audiences based on the information available to general commercial advertisers.

Advertisers generally buy programming in a standard set of demographic measurements. Those seeking to reach viewers ages 25 to 54 will place commercials in local news; those seeking to reach people over 65 will tend to buy advertising time on 7 p.m. shows like “Jeopardy!”; and those seeking to reach young upscale women ages 18 to 49 will direct their advertising to prime time shows like “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Political campaigns have tended to use the same categories, traditionally advertising most heavily in news and pre-prime-time game shows, where the most reliable voters can generally be found. Mr. Romney’s campaign largely did this until the final weeks of the race, when it increasingly relied on cable as well.

But by then, Mr. Obama’s campaign had been on cable for months, focusing on niche networks and programs that did not necessarily deliver large audiences but, as Mr. Grisolano put it, did provide the right ones.

Mr. Obama’s team said all year that its technological innovations would count only in a close race, which is exactly what it found itself in.

“All of this stuff only matters in the margins,” said Mr. Goldstein, of Kantar Media/CMAG. “But if having an alternative ratings system enabled you to put more messages on target, and you have a bunch of states being decided by one or two percentage points, that can matter.”

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