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Thursday, July 5, 2007
posted by Timotheus | 1:51 PM | permalink
The Washington Post has an absolutely fascinating article about the work of Alex Gage to target specific political messages to particular voters based upon the same microtargeting theories that marketers use. Basically, a very large sample of consumer information is gathered and processed into target groups for specific political issues.

This sounds obvious to someone with a business background. In fact, "[When microtargeting was first pitched] to the Harvard MBAs advising Romney in his gubernatorial campaign, they were stunned that the idea had never been used in politics. 'You guys don't do this already?' they asked".

The article goes on to discuss Gage's apparent success using this approach in New Mexico and Ohio in 2004 for President Bush.

In Ohio: "In Ohio, the key battleground of the 2004 campaign, Gage's microtargeting showed that black voters -- who had traditionally not been drawn to the GOP -- wanted to hear candidates talk about education and health care. As a result, they received a series of contacts -- direct mail and phone calls, primarily -- emphasizing Bush's accomplishments on just those two issues. It was a much different message from the president's broader attempt to cast the election as a choice between staying the course in Iraq and the anti-terrorism effort or switching teams in midstream."

"It worked. Nationwide, Bush won 11 percent of the black vote, a two-point increase from 2000; in Ohio, he won 16 percent, an improvement of seven percentage points. Bush won Ohio by 118,601 votes, or approximately 2 percent of the more than 5.6 million votes cast for the two major-party nominees."

Romney: The Romney team has enlisted Gage to help them win the Republican nomination. Several meetings were held to determine if microtargeting would also work in a primary election. The conclusion, "After hashing out the details on maps and graphs, Myers and the rest of the Romney team reached a decision. 'The question was whether you could differentiate between the eight kinds of chocolate,' she said. 'I became convinced that the power of microtargeting was enhanced by segregating a generally homogenous universe.'"

As to the Current Effort...

"[T]he Romney campaign is decidedly circumspect when it comes to divulging details of exactly what Gage and his team are doing, other than to say the process of interviewing individuals has begun in Iowa."

"Developing that strategy has placed Gage in a central role in the campaign. Myers describes Gage as its 'strategic orchestra leader' -- he oversees polling, media and online operations and works to ensure that every part of the Romney operation is working in concert."

"Gage is more humble about his role, calling himself a 'planner.' He said, 'I have always believed in Eisenhower's observation: 'In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.'' "

Just one more indication, in case you needed it, that the Romney team is on the cutting edge.
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