Could foreign policy actually affect the presidential election? – Foreign Policy
Below is a tally of the money raised and spent through September by the presidential candidates, the national party committees and the primary “super PACs”. Poll, Date, Sample, MoE. Obama (D). Romney (R). Spread. Final Results, --, --, --, , , Obama + RCP Average, 10/31 - 11/5, --, --, , , Obama +. How President Obama's campaign used big data to rally individual voters. site traffic, personalize content, and serve targeted advertisements.
United States presidential election - Wikipedia
That fall, when a special election was held to fill an open congressional seat in upstate New York, Wagner successfully predicted the final margin within votes—well before Election Day.
Months later, pollsters projected that Martha Coakley was certain to win another special election, to fill the Massachusetts Senate seat left empty by the death of Ted Kennedy. As the midterms approached, Wagner built statistical models for selected Senate races and 74 congressional districts. He had counted votes one by one. His congressional predictions were off by an average of only 2. His approach amounted to a decisive break with 20th-century tools for tracking public opinion, which revolved around quarantining small samples that could be treated as representative of the whole.
Wagner had emerged from a cadre of analysts who thought of voters as individuals and worked to aggregate projections about their opinions and behavior until they revealed a composite picture of everyone. His techniques marked the fulfillment of a new way of thinking, a decade in the making, in which voters were no longer trapped in old political geographies or tethered to traditional demographic categories, such as age or gender, depending on which attributes pollsters asked about or how consumer marketers classified them for commercial purposes.
Instead, the electorate could be seen as a collection of individual citizens who could each be measured and assessed on their own terms. Now it was up to a candidate who wanted to lead those people to build a campaign that would interact with them the same way. After the voters returned Obama to office for a second term, his campaign became celebrated for its use of technology—much of it developed by an unusual team of coders and engineers—that redefined how individuals could use the Web, social media, and smartphones to participate in the political process.
But underneath all that were scores describing particular voters: Wagner, then 24, was soon in Des Moines, handling data entry for the state voter file that guided Obama to his crucial victory in the Iowa caucuses. He bounced from state to state through the long primary calendar, growing familiar with voter data and the ways of using statistical models to intelligently sort the electorate.
Wagner was told to stay behind and serve on a post-election task force that would review a campaign that had looked, to the outside world, technically flawless.
These scores were derived from an unprecedented volume of ongoing survey work. To derive individual-level predictions, algorithms trawled for patterns between these opinions and the data points the campaign had assembled for every voter—as many as one thousand variables each, drawn from voter registration records, consumer data warehouses, and past campaign contacts.
This innovation was most valued in the field. There, an almost perfect cycle of microtargeting models directed volunteers to scripted conversations with specific voters at the door or over the phone. The efficiency and scale of that process put the Democrats well ahead when it came to profiling voters. Within the campaign, however, the Obama data operations were understood to have shortcomings.
Obama would run his final race not as an insurgent against a party establishment, but as the establishment itself. Their demands, not the offerings of consultants and vendors, would shape the marketplace. The committee installed a Siemens Enterprise System phone-dialing unit that could put out 1. The chastening losses they had experienced in Washington separated them from those who had known only the ecstasies of At the same time, they knew they would need to succeed at registering and mobilizing new voters, especially in some of the fastest-growing demographic categories, to make up for any voters who did defect.
But within the campaign, the goal was literal. They would reassemble the coalition, one by one, through personal contacts.
This reflected a principled imperative to challenge the political establishment with an empirical approach to electioneering, and it was greatly influenced by David Plouffe, the campaign manager, who loved metrics, spreadsheets, and performance reports. Plouffe wanted to know: How much money did that ad campaign bring in? But for all its reliance on data, the Obama campaign had remained insulated from the most important methodological innovation in 21st-century politics.
InYale professors Don Green and Alan Gerber conducted the first randomized controlled trial in modern political science, assigning New Haven voters to receive nonpartisan election reminders by mail, phone, or in-person visit from a canvasser and measuring which group saw the greatest increase in turnout.
The subsequent wave of field experiments by Green, Gerber, and their followers focused on mobilization, testing competing modes of contact and get-out-the-vote language to see which were most successful.
The first Obama campaign used the findings of such tests to tweak call scripts and canvassing protocols, but it never fully embraced the experimental revolution itself. The breakthrough was that registration no longer had to be approached passively; organizers did not have to simply wait for the unenrolled to emerge from anonymity, sign a form, and, they hoped, vote. New techniques made it possible to intelligently profile nonvoters: Applying microtargeting models identified which nonregistrants were most likely to be Democrats and which ones Republicans.
The Obama campaign embedded social scientists from the Analyst Institute among its staff. Party officials knew that adding new Democratic voters to the registration rolls was a crucial element in their strategy for It wanted to take on the most vexing problem in politics: The expansion of individual-level data had made possible the kind of testing that could help do that. Experimenters had typically calculated the average effect of their interventions across the entire population.
When the group sent direct mail in favor of Democratic gubernatorial candidates, it barely budged those whose scores placed them in the middle of the partisan spectrum; it had a far greater impact upon those who had been profiled as soft or nonideological Republicans.
That test, and others that followed, demonstrated the limitations of traditional targeting. Such techniques rested on a series of long-standing assumptions—for instance, that middle-of-the-roaders were the most persuadable and that infrequent voters were the likeliest to be captured in a get-out-the-vote drive. But the experiments introduced new uncertainty. People who were identified as having a 50 percent likelihood of voting for a Democrat might in fact be torn between the two parties, or they might look like centrists only because no data attached to their records pushed a partisan prediction in one direction or another.
The traditional way of doing this had been to audition themes and language in focus groups and then test the winning material in polls to see which categories of voters responded positively to each approach. Any insights were distorted by the artificial settings and by the tiny samples of demographic subgroups in traditional polls.
And people have been doing that for decades! Experimenters would randomly assign voters to receive varied sequences of direct mail—four pieces on the same policy theme, each making a slightly different case for Obama—and then use ongoing survey calls to isolate the attributes of those whose opinions changed as a result. The experiment revealed how much voter response differed by age, especially among women. Older women thought more highly of the policies when they received reminders about preventive care; younger women liked them more when they were told about contraceptive coverage and new rules that prohibited insurance companies from charging women more.
The results were surprising. Those scores suggested that they probably shared Republican attitudes; but here was one thing that could pull them to Obama. Traditionally, campaigns have restricted their persuasion efforts to channels like mass media or direct mail, where they can control presentation, language, and targeting.
Sending volunteers to persuade voters would mean forcing them to interact with opponents, or with voters who were undecided because they were alienated from politics on delicate issues like abortion.
They began sending trained volunteers to knock on doors or make phone calls with the objective of changing minds. That dramatic shift in the culture of electioneering was felt on the streets, but it was possible only because of advances in analytics.
Likely Obama supporters would get regular reminders from their local field organizers, asking them to return their ballots, and, once they had, a message thanking them and proposing other ways to be involved in the campaign. The local organizer would receive daily lists of the voters on his or her turf who had outstanding ballots so that the campaign could follow up with personal contact by phone or at the doorstep.
Wagner, however, was turning his attention beyond the field. Throughout the primaries, Romney had appeared to be the only Republican running a 21st-century campaign, methodically banking early votes in states like Florida and Ohio before his disorganized opponents could establish operations there.The Top 10 Free Online Dating Sites For 2015 - Best Free Dating Websites List
Such techniques had offered George W. ByDemocrats had not only matched Republicans in adopting commercial marketing techniques; they had moved ahead by integrating methods developed in the social sciences. That was the structure Obama had abandoned after winning the nomination in Instead, they fixated on trying to unlock one big, persistent mystery, which Lundry framed this way: TargetPoint also integrated content collected from newspaper websites and closed-caption transcripts of broadcast programs.
At this rate, Obama is also well on the way towards staging the world's first billion-dollar campaign. Under its motto "Bigger, better, ", the Chicago team intends between now and election day in November to create a campaign powerhouse which will allow fundraisers, advertisers and state and local organisers to draw from the same data source. Joe Rospars, the campaign's chief digital strategist, told a seminar at the Guardian-sponsored Social Media Week that the aim was to create technology that encourages voters to get involved, in tune with Obama's emphasis on community organising.
Campaign insiders say that the emphasis this year will be on efficiency more than any headline-grabbing technical wizardry.
How Obama’s Team Used Big Data to Rally Voters - MIT Technology Review
But that should not obscure how significant this year's presidential cycle will be in putting to the test the first custom-made digital campaign. Mark Sullivan, founder of Voter Activation Network, which manages the Democratic party's central database of voter information known as Vote Builder, says that "what we will see in will make look really primitive". Judith Freeman of New Organizing Institute, who worked on both John Kerry's and Obama's presidential campaigns, says there is a leap forward in technology every presidential cycle, and would be no exception.
Yet in fact, the separation of its data on voters into several distinct silos forced high-level staffers to spend hours manually downloading information from one database to another. This year the Chicago team hasn't knocked down the walls so much as dispensed with them altogether. They have built from the ground up a unified database that incorporates and connects everything the campaign knows about a voter within it.
Rospars said that in they no longer had to try to integrate data in the campaign. Jeff Chester of the digital advertising watchdog Center for Digital Democracy, which has been calling for regulators to review the growth of digital marketing in politics, said that "this is beyond J Edgar Hoover's dream.
In its rush to exploit the power of digital data to win re-election, the Obama campaign appears to be ignoring the ethical and moral implications. The Obama database incorporates Vote Builder, a store of essential information such as age, postal address, occupation and voting history drawn from the voter files of million active voters.
It lines up and matches those voter files with data gathered from online interactions with the president's supporters — notably the millions of pieces of information its army of canvassers collected across the nation during the race, a list of email addresses of supporters that it has amassed and that now stands at about 23 million, as well as the contact information of Obama's 25 million Facebook fans.
Facebook itself has been transformed as a political campaign tool sincesimply by dint of its exponential growth. Four years ago there were about 40 million Facebook users in the US; now there are more than million — incorporating almost the entire voting public.
The significance of the fusion of Facebook and voter file data is hard to overemphasise. The messages can be honed to a particular demographic — age, gender, etc — as well as set of interests, and targeted on the most hotly contested parts of the most crucial battleground states. Teddy Goff, the digital director of the re-election team, told Social Media Week that as the year progresses there would be more and more "persuasion through interaction".
Individual voters would be given access to digital platforms from which they will be able to tell their own stories "and that's far more powerful than anything we can say", Goff said. People's own stories really moves votes. An Obama message would be crafted so that "not only can it be passed to your friends but to those friends that we think are most in need of passing it on to". The bottom line is that if you are sent a message from your Facebook friend encouraging you to turn up to an event or donate to Obama, you are vastly more likely to respond than if the request comes from an anonymous campaign staffer.
The other door that data integration will further open in is personalised marketing. This has been the Holy Grail of political campaigners for decades: In the old world of snail mail, that could be achieved to some degree through direct marketing — ie leaflets dropped into the letter box — but that is expensive and far too slow with today's hour news cycle.
2008 United States presidential election
The fusion of information into a centralised database allows you to direct market online at much less cost and virtually instantaneously.
The technique has begun to spread widely among commercial businesses over the past year, and it is only a matter of time before such hyper-targeting is standard across political campaigns. Indeed, we've already started to see it this year. The Obama campaign has already tailored a single donation request to 26 distinct segments of the voting public. The Republicans are also getting in on the act. Michele Bachmann used customised online advertising in Iowa to reach Republican voters only, sending to their computers messages with a local spin for each of the state's 99 counties.
That helped her win Iowa's vaunted straw poll in August though that didn't help her in the long run. Rick Perry sent God-praising commercials to Iowans who listed themselves as evangelicals on Facebook. The company CampaignGridthat serves mainly Republican candidates, claims to be able to online market direct to targeted households.