Thursday, November 8, 2012
The headline above echoes Chuck Todd, Chief White House Correspondent for NBC News, talking election strategy -- and success -- today on Morning Joe.
Todd -- an admitted enthusiastic for the power of data -- attributed President Obama's re-election victory in large part to the data-directed dedication of Obama's top political advisers Jim Messina, campaign manager; David Axelrod, political adviser; and political strategist David Plouffe.
As Scarborough's panel noted, post-election results prove that this group of strategists and analysts knew they would win and they knew why. How could they have been so sure?
Marketing Lesson #1: Get the Data
In Obama's reelection effort, Big Smart Data did the trick -- big data that already knew where to find Democratic leaning constituents, including where they shop, what they buy, where their spouses/partners work, what magazines they read, what TV programs they watch, what moves them -- all of it.
Richard Stengel, managing editor of Time Magazine, also touted the value and impact of sophisticated data mining described in the magazine's November 7 story by Time White House correspondent Michael Scherer. A similar Poynter article quoted a senior Obama campaign official saying, "We ran the election 66,000 times every night," said a senior official describing the computer simulations the campaign ran to figure out Obama's odds of winning each swing state. "And every morning we got the spit-out -- there are your chances of winning these states. And that is how we allocated resources."
And so it went ... "All into one gigantic database," Stengel noted.
Marketing Lesson #2: Put Effort Where It Counts Most
Marketers call it the 80/20 rule. In the 2012 election, Big Data was applied to instructing Obama's reelection efforts -- particularly in the nine swing states -- exactly where and how to boost voter registration. In other words, the point wasn't to convert non-believers. The point was to grow and nurture the believer base.
The Obama campaign also took Big Data to an art form in areas where the Democrats were traditionally less strong, but where great potential lay. "[In Ohio, among labor] the effort was particularly helpful in targeting some of the more difficult demographic groups - white men, for example."
Marketing Lesson #3: Follow-up with CRM
From the gigantic database, relevant information was converted into "boots on the ground." In all nine swing states, for years before the election, committed volunteers worked to "get out the vote." They registered voters, of course, but it didn't end with registration. Many volunteers actually became friends with those they had recruited: they had coffee together, they stayed in touch, they practiced the proven tactics of customer relationship management (CRM). And, on election day, these volunteers made as certain as possible that their constituents actually would vote: they phoned, they visited, they offered rides, the followed up, close and personal.
Marketing Lesson #4: Don't Talk Down to Your Audience
To marketers, of course, Big Data is no mystery. "Companies like Proctor & Gamble, are accustomed to calibrating data against message," Stengel pointed out. The "secret," of course, is to spend money only on messaging that's targeted and effective.
Making this point, Stengel noted that some of the opposition's repetitive TV ads actually helped Obama. In particular, a Romney campaign ad playing in industrial Ohio that many viewers believed misrepresented Romney's position on the auto bailout, angered the well-informed viewers in Ohio's heavily unionized areas. "Watchers do become experts on ads," Stengel noted.
Having Said All This, If It Don't Work, It Don't Work
The Republicans had data, too, of course -- a huge machine they nicknamed Orca. Somehow, though, Orca went awry. An article by political columnist Paul Glastris that appeared in Washington Monthly sought to address the question, The Mystery of Why Republicans Were So Sure They’d Win.
Glastris wrote, "Orca, which was headquartered in a giant war room spread across the floor of the Boston Garden, turned out to be problematic at best. Early in the evening, one aide said that, as of 4 p.m., Orca still projected a Romney victory of somewhere between 290 and 300 electoral votes. Obviously that didn’t happen. Later, another aide said Orca had pretty much crashed in the heat of the action. 'Somebody said Orca is lying on the beach with a harpoon in it,' said the aide."
Just for the Fun of It, Remember: Anecdotal Evidence Also Counts
Rising Democratic star San Antonio (TX) Mayor Julian Castro explained how voters in his city were persuaded to approve a modest one-eighth of one percent tax increase dedicated to underwriting high-quality pre-kindergarten for thousands of children. Castro noted that -- contrary to the "no new taxes ever" mantra, people will accept taxation when they know its purpose. Voters understand the need for education for young children, understanding that "brain power is the currency of success," he said.
Incidentally, Castro predicts the effect of the Hispanic vote will take Texas to the Democrats in six to eight years.
-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo