Because of this I think that this sort of micro-haggling can happen. Instead of offering a broad plan that is ideologically consistent, and then trying to convince the population to go along with that - politicians can turn the knobs of the different constituencies by holding out the carrot that matters to that group of people.
I think voters vote for ideals rather than as a business proposition, and there are polls that back that up. The idea that 47% of the electorate is 'bought' was pretty thoroughly slammed in the media the last couple months.
While I agree that voters vote more based on ideals - I know I do - if there are enough 'business propositions' that go against you, that is most likely going to be an affront to your ideals. If your job relies on corn subsidies, you more than likely agree with the idea of crop subsides, and therefore will vote for the candidate that supports your "ideals".
There are forces counteracting that, you know.
And he was a great candidate facing a pretty mediocre one as an incumbent in a growing economy. It was a perfect storm of circumstance, not a unique moment.
"Dear Candidate, you will have to see people in that part of the country, not because you care, but because our data has shown that a similar visit before was statistically significant enough to matter."
On top of that, this data-driven approach actively undermines any connection by reducing it to a functional one. There isn't even the pretence anymore that the candidate cares for the given group due to intrinsic values or some sort of connection other than statistics.
When has a candidate ever campaigned in a place for any other reason other than an attempt to snag votes? The advent of computer-driven data didn't suddenly steal the innocence out of campaigning.
While I can appreciate there is value to having figureheads around, it's hard for me to look at a system approaching direct democracy and feel that it is worse.
Statistics reflect groups already present or in the process of development, which formed due to previous work (be it a former presidency or the opposition thereof). Giving statistics free reign does not approach direct democracy, because it merely manifests what was already there, or -- if you want to be more dystopian -- they will create through their own precriptions what they define (→ theory effect).
The whole point of holding elections is to find a
compromise that works for the majority -- if not most -- of the people, and for that you need a program that then creates groups. If you however campaign solely based on the already existant groups, you will cement the already existing groups (and schisms) without the chance to actually initialise any new group formation processes.
I don't understand direct democracy as a system where the candidate serves merely as an empty canvas on which every individual voter (or group of voters) can project their preconceived opinions without even having to engage in any form of idea-led political discourse.
"Merely manifesting what was already there" is exactly the point of democracy: the majority rules as opposed to some superior-minded entity. Your argument seems to be that representative democracy is better than direct democracy because compromise wouldn't exist without representatives or people wouldn't factionize without them. I find those claims dubious, but we're all entitled to our opinion.
What I think lies beneath your argument is a form of the old classical AI versus statistic AI debate. The classical side asserts that there's not much scientific value in statistical techniques because they don't increase our understanding. The statistical side emphasizes pragmatics and has the best results. Interestingly, even if your side were right, it's going to be (and is already, evidently) steamrolled by the other side simply because they have the results. It doesn't seem impossible to me that there could be something valuable about sharing values with candidates, but the candidate that employed the statistical method better won. As long as that remains the case--in other words, until voters vote based on actual values rather than statistically determined hot-button issues--it's a moot point.
Winning requires all kinds. Sketch out the broad vision, and then do the little data-driven things that can give you a bunch of tiny little edges on the margin. But if it's not close to begin with, no amount of small edges are gonna help you.
A good analogy would be having good architecture and good code quality in a project -- you need both, but no amount of code quality can save a bad architecture.
That doesn't sound completely right to me. Romney's stint at Bain was expected to cost him the presidency (and maybe did) because of the unpopular things he did while there: Fired people and outsourced jobs while making a couple hundred million for himself in the process. Of the many things he's flop-flopped and waffled on, that record isn't one of them. If running for president in a down economy with that around your neck isn't standing behind something unpopular, what is?
Not being able to change his past at Bain, not that he didn't try, isn't a sign of backbone, it's just how 'the past' works.
You clearly have an issue in mind when Obama did this?
> Not being able to change his past at Bain, not that he didn't try, isn't a sign of backbone, it's just how 'the past' works.
By running with this past (it's very much an option not to run), he implicitly ran on a non-flop-floppable platform of "I'm willing to do stuff that's unpopular and will hurt".
* Coming out in support of gay marriage, which has always lost in state ballots.
* Going after Osama bin Laden, on a 50/50 chance, inside a foreign nation who would have every right to shoot down our invading helicopters.
* The auto bailout, which was not popular at the time. It's amazing how easily people forget stuff like this.
1. Gay marriage and the auto bailout are or have been unpopular, but not among Obama's core voting groups. Yes, standing behind those positions will piss off lots of people, but not people who were going to vote for him anyway. The ACA falls under this category as well, in that it wasn't terribly popular, but many on the left didn't like it because it didn't go far enough. No way were they going to vote for Romney because Obama hadn't gone far enough with the ACA.
2. Obama didn't come out in favor of gay marriage until Biden forced his hand, and there's no way he would have. But Biden forced his hand and it turned out well for him in the end.
Obama is just as calculating and concerned about keeping his base happy as any other national politician.
The amount of $$$ spent against "Obamacare" before and after its passing easily numbers in the hundreds of millions of dollars. "Obamacare" is/was considered a defamatory label. The president's Chieff of Staff essentially begged the president not to go through with it. 0.00000000000000000 Republicans ever went on board with it. The whole law wasn't even to go into effect until 2014. Presidents for how many decades have tried and failed to deliver health reform?
There was absolutely no short-term (or even near long-term) political gain to be found in pursuing the law. And if the law didn't pass, the president would be in a much weaker political position.
Even by passing it, the president knew the process would kill any remaining political capital he had left and also hand the House of Representatives to Republicans. That much was not rocket science.
What is amazing is that he chose to pursue it anyway. It's even more amazing that the law passed given all the political and entrenched forces against it.
So, to be clear, the ACA was emphatically not popular in any way. I still remember all the anti-Obamacare ads that showed up on Youtube videos. The law was villified to kingdom come and it would be a tragedy if that fact is forgetten.
1. They protect jobs, but often at a much higher cost than is justified. Admittedly, I don't know the numbers here, but I recall something about the ban on foreign tires protecting US jobs at a cost of $900,000 per job saved.
2. They introduce moral hazard. See our repeated pattern of bank bailouts for examples. If the auto bailout did cause this problem, we won't know about it until much later.
A defining feature of capitalism is competition, which means economic winners and losers. If we protect companies from the need to restructure, even for a noble purpose, we may cause more problems down the road. The auto industry wouldn't have ceased to exist if two companies had gone through bankruptcy. Other automakers and manufacturers would have bought those assets and run them more efficiently. And those other companies are exactly the type you want to be doing this, since they didn't need a bailout in the first place, right?
I don't think the moral hazard argument holds for the auto industry like it does for banks, and the auto industry is strategically critical to have around and in good health. But there are valid arguments that disagree.
The difference is that now, campaigns have access to unprecedented amounts of audience data. But make no mistake, it was all dog and pony back then, too.
No, the contemporary approach is based on a series of tools, such as focus groups, which are a very new phenomenon in politics. The first national campaign where these figured prominently was 1992, I believe. (With e.g. "soccer moms" among the archetypal mini-groups.) Their sophistication increased by leaps and bounds up to the level described in this article. And they are quite game-changing for the nature of politics.
1. His constituents were terrified of the Soviet space program dropping something nasty on their heads, and didn't want to be behind the curve in that arena.
2. His assassination effectively canonized the program. (I think he'd argue my terming that an "advantage.") Cutting it after his death would have been political suicide. Where space exploration often has the same inherent challenge as nuclear power–specifically that the length of any serious endeavor will span several presidents, congresses, senates, to say nothing of economic cycles, (see CxP)–the Apollo program, despite being 2.2% of all federal outlays, had broad support.
There were numerous other factors, but I think those two played a big part in its success.
Perhaps we've already seen it misused on Romney's part: depending on where in the country he was speaking (say, southwest vs. rustbelt) he would take a different tone on the topic of immigration. In the age of instant news, flipflopping like that in the name of "targeting" your audience can have major consequences.
Winning an election through careful attention to the polls simply means you're tailoring your messaging and policies to the opinions of the demographcs that matter most to victor. How is that not "democratic?".
If your complaint is that some demographics matter more than others, then address your criticism to the electoral college, not the strategy picked by the winning candidate.
This was a pretty narrow victory, there are a lot of structural, ideological, and demographic biases at work here, and Obama did worse among most groups than he did in 2008.
Put another way, is there any evidence that Obama would have lost or even done much worse without this data crunching effort?
And the evidence that Obama would have actually lost is obviously not going to turn up. But you can look at the relative performance in "swing" states vs. the general electorate for hints. He clearly outperformed among the demographics that ended up deciding the election, as witnessed by the very large electoral victory on the basis of a very narrow (currently <2% I believe) popular vote margin.
Sorry, what is that evidence? The fact that they were saying they thought they would win? The fact that they didn't give up? Did you really expect them to? It's important not to confuse the public behavior of a campaign with their internal beliefs. And Romney really could have won this, had things gone a little differently.
None of that proves anything. But I think the burden of proof really goes the other way: the Obama campaign clearly seems to have played the moneyball correctly here. If Romney's folks knew they were going to lose, you'd have to show that.
And I don't know how to interpret "Romney really could have won this, had things gone a little differently". If you're talking about polling could have been different had he been winning, then of course: we'd be having the same argument in reverse. Though again, the evidence seems to say that Obama would still have outperformed the popular vote margin and thus have still been running a better data-driven campaign.
If you're saying that the data suggested by the end-campaign polls could have supported a Romney win, then no: that's just wrong, as evidenced by the discussion we're having. That kind of thinking is exactly the kind of "faith-based" notion that the Romney campaign is accused of relying on. The data showed a clear Obama victory. The data was right. Period.
The Romney campaign is reported to have believed they were winning late into the day yesterday.
Based on what their model was telling them.
Not "faith", but data. A model. Math.
I have a strong suspicion in there's a good book in this election- how one set of Big Data led one team in the right direction, and another set of Big Data led the other team in the wrong direction.
This to me is the absolutely crucial thing to keep in mind. You can have your model and have your data, but that doesn't mean you've picked the right model and the right data.
Not the first time that lesson has been demonstrated, and it won't be the last.
It's hard to know, but one reason for the strong turnout might have been better get-out-the-vote efforts of the kind described here.
Not unreasonably. Most public polls supported that belief. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/wp/2012/10...
If you're saying that the Romney campaign had "reasonable" justifications for disbelieving the data they saw, then I agree. If you're claiming that they actually had data the supported that position, then you're wrong.
The polls did in fact show that Republicans had higher enthusiasm, which is valid evidence for expecting better turnout. The better turnout did not materialize, but it was completely reasonable to believe that it might.
There was never any data for that. It was all (incorrect) analysis. So don't say that there was data to support the position, there wasn't.
And the "enthusiasm" numbers were from early in the spring, before likely voter probing can be done. That stuff all disappears once the LV polls start coming out post-primaries.
Again, this is not about unskewing. This is about data as it was actually reported directly on the page.
Here's one of the polls directly referenced in the link I included in previous post. NPR Poll Oct 23-25, 2012. Just before the election. http://media.npr.org/documents/2012/oct/NPROctpoll.pdf
There's a 10 point scale that gives a 10 percent difference in enthusiasm to Republicans at the "10" level.
Of course that advantage vanishes if you include "8-10", which could be the sort of mistake Romney's internal pollsters made.
The poll only includes Likely Voters.
So there was data in public polls just before the election reflecting an enthusiasm advantage for Republicans. To say there wasn't is simply wrong.
And, of course, it's just flat wrong. That you would defend this behavior is just beyond me. It was a mistake, it wasn't ever a reasonable interpretation of the data, and plenty of smart people said so at the time.
The concept here is that "likely" is a continuum, and the Republicans had an advantage at the extreme upper end of it.
EDIT- Adding a note and then moving on from this. I understand you're saying the enthusiasm is baked into the final preference percentages, but that's not the case.
Pennsylvania and Wisconsin I think are evidence of exactly the opposite: they knew they were going to lose Ohio and they had money to burn, so they threw a hail mary. Because why not?
Two other things to keep in mind:
(1) The Republican leadership has been really really invested in the “fake it ’till you make it” school of persuasion: if you act like a winner, this will persuade the people who want to get behind a winner, and then you will win.
(2) Democratic operatives have known for decades that the demographic groups more likely to vote for them are also the groups that are less likely to vote at all. The Clinton-era solution to this problem was to pitch a message that was more likely to resonate with the population that was already voting; the Obama-era solution is to get more of those unlikely voters into the voting booths. Republicans don’t have as much headroom to improve their turnout.
Actually if you look at direct contributions, Obama raised nearly double what Romney brought in:
SuperPACs allowed Romney to compete financially, but I don't think the number crunchers they talked about in the Time article were involved in the PACs
But given the disadvantages Obama had going in, he definitely performed towards the top-end of what could be expected.
What other blunders did they make early on in the campaign?
What exactly is "pretty narrow" about a 303-206 electoral split?
Again, this system was about identifying impressionable voters and marketing to them properly. The location of swing states is simple and public information, not proprietary.
That is quite debatable. There is no way of knowing how many people simply don't show up to the polls because they live in a state that leans heavily toward the opposition and therefore know their vote will have exactly zero effect on the election.
Take a jurisdiction like Chicago which is known for voter fraud and high turnout among the dead. Under our current system, no matter how compromised that system is, its impact is limited to that state.. it can only swing some Electoral Votes (and everything state and local).
With a straight popular vote, that compromised system would put the overall system at much bigger risk.
The Electoral College serves as a corruption firewall between systems.. not perfect, but significantly better than the alternative.
Imagine, for a moment, that if the kind of voter fraud that Chicago earned a reputation for in the 1960s were to happen in a city like Miami nowadays. So let's say 5,000 fraudulent votes went to candidate A. In a popular vote system, that's unlikely to swing the verdict because that's such a tiny margin compared to the country's entire electorate. 5,000 is less than 0.004% of the number of people who voted in 2008.
But Florida historically polls close - easily close enough for 5,000 votes to swing which way the state goes. And this winner wouldn't just pick up that tiny sliver, they would get all 29 of Florida's electoral votes. That's a much bigger chunk of the pie - 5.4%. Worse yet, in the electoral college getting the votes is a zero-sum game. (Not so in the earlier case because the votes shouldn't have existed in the first place - so picking up a fraudulent vote for candidate A doesn't mean that candidate B lost a vote.) Candidate A getting 29 votes means candidate B loses 29 votes, so the real swing is more than 10%.
Meaning that in this hypothetical, the electoral college managed to magnify the influence of what was a relatively small instance of electoral fraud by a factor of more than 2,500%, into something that could easily swing an election.
With a popular vote, it would be popular to have millions upon millions of fraudulent votes in a single place, say, Delaware, that would allow the opposing candidate to win even if there was supposed to be a landslide victory for the other candidate.
I think "Firewall" is a good analogy of this.
It would be better if your hypothetical example were at least remotely plausible. The entire population of Delaware is less than one million.
Keep in mind that my example of only 5,000 fraudulent registrations in a single place is already over an order of magnitude larger than notable examples from recent history.
I supposed millions in Delaware is a bad example, but it's certainly possible in a place like California.
An unproven case of a small number (<100) of possibly fraudulent votes in an election more than 60 years ago, and still going on about it as if it happens every election, and orders of magnitude worse.
Who wins the district wins that EV. Who wins the state wins an additional 2 EVs (ie, aligned with senate numbers). Total would equal (currently) 538 EVs.
Some states already do something similar (see Nebraska, Maine).
Of course, this brings up the perennial problem of gerrymandering... which could be resolved by mandating perimeter to area ratios that keep things from looking too crazy.
What the electoral college incentivizes is isolated ad spending and campaign stumping in the battleground states. It's clear that this aspect of campaigning would change substantially if the electoral college were eliminated, so strategic advantages would be sought elsewhere and I think the ground game would become a focal point.
The smart Republicans will take this to heart and turn their attention towards the 'quants and coders,' and the smart quants and coders will be looking to be employed by them.
2. You should throw your support behind one of the initiatives to link electoral college representation to the popular vote at the state level, because you're not going to get rid of the college itself for the foreseeable future.
3. Mitt Romney had exactly the same opportunities Obama did and knows exactly how the electoral college works. He just didn't use them. For example, the Obama campaign gambled and bought a lot of TV time early on when it was cheaper, so they got more bang for their buck. It's no good whining about one candidate manipulating the electoral college system, as if it had somehow been kept a secret from the other candidate. Romney was able to figure out the GOP primary system, which is at least as complex. Every student of American politics understands how the electoral college functions.
I don't know why people love to say this; its simply not true. Just because we can predict which way certain regions will lean before the vote comes in does not imply that those regions don't matter. Does Nate Silver predicting 100% of the outcome of the election mean none of our votes mattered? Of course not.
The purpose of voting is not to "change the outcome election". The purpose is to participate in the process, thereby giving the process legitimacy.
In fact, seems like this system worked just fine anyway - they won the popular vote as well.
I think lots of "urban" issues would suddenly be much more relevant to the campaign, particularly on the left; gun control would be back on the table, marijuana legalization would start to be taken seriously as a social justice issue, etc. I'm partly talking out of my ass, but things would almost definitely change.
I somehow got added to the Obama campaign mailing list, and their recent fundraising emails politely noted that their records did not show me having donated any money (I'm not American and don't live in the US). They also said that their records might not reflect my donation if I had made it through a different channel.
However, this article suggests that all the channels go to the same database. I wonder whether one of the following scenarios is correct:
* The database has eventual consistency (maybe my donation through channel X would take some time to be reflected by the campaign team);
* The message was a ruse to throw off independent and Republican analysts to the sophistication of the database;
* It was CYA in case something had gone wrong.
In none of the presidential debates did either man speak in depth about his governing philosophy (or the Fed for that matter). Their talking points rang loud and clear over and over, and finger-pointing abounded, but neither spoke of his core convictions. The campaign speeches were much of the same. For all of the complaints about Romney's lack of details in his economic plan, the President didn't do any better, simply offering a 'stay the course' message (he learned something from Bush).
Therefore, given this article and the lack of ideology involved in the campaigns, I conclude that the voters were not persuaded by philosophy. They were targeted by the campaign so that the powers that be could keep their power.
Looking back to the electoral college results of 1980 and 1984 shows what a strong, clear ideological message can do. Those familiar with Reagan's speeches will know why.
So for those who say that America has embraced any certain ideology, I say that it has not, since ideology hasn't been on the ballot for a long time. People have embraced a man, and the philosophical debate has reached a new low.
Jesus. You know the intellectual landscape is bleak when even hackers are willing to entertain the notion that democracy/mob rule has anything to do with philosophy, or that politicians operate in line with some sort of rational ethic other than straight forward power broking.
Very astute, Plato.
Welcome to planet Earth. Hope you enjoy your stay.
"...the campaign’s Quick Donate program, which allowed repeat giving online or via text message without having to re-enter credit-card information, gave about four times as much as other donors. So the program was expanded and incentivized."
- How did the Quick Donate program work? Like Amazon's 1-Click checkout?
- What was the call to action for Quick Donating again?
- How was the program expanded/incentivized?
In baseball, the journalists and pundits were way ahead of the professional operators in moving from gut calls to data-crunching, while in politics, it's the opposite - what Silver and other public number-based forecasters do is commonplace inside the campaigns.
Can you please recommend me books/software applications/online courses for doing the work these guys were doing for Obama campaign?
(Just to clarify: I am a developer and I grok SQL. So that part is covered. Other parts... less so.)
If you look online there's Ruby source code examples to go with the Python in the book.
Cut your chops with an e-commerce company. While there learn big data, how to test, and read into behavioral economics, and you're set.
There are no leaders anymore.
What gave PA to Obama was the blocking by the courts of the Voter ID act that the legislature passed.
Note that in all the praise about individual contibutors in the article, there is no mention of "bundling" and the routine use of cutouts, both rather unsavory practices that both sides use.
EDIT: this site may prove a useful antidote to the above article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/campai...
Romney raised more than Obama in total $$$. Even without the SuperPAC contributions that gave Romney more money, the two campaigns were within about 10% of each other in terms of what they raised.
I can't find the registered voter turnout for 2012 yet, but in past years Philly RV turnout has been as high as 108%.
We do have a fair bit of voter registration fraud, where a fictitious name is registered to vote. This is because registration is handled by the political parties paying contractors per registration, leading to fraud for money. The key is that even if Mickey Mouse, or the roster of the Dallas Cowboys is registered to vote multiple times in the country, they don't actually show up and do it.
There are cases of people deliberately multiple voting, but the most common fraud is a convicted felon who has lost their voting privilege continuing to vote. Some states have strange and complicated laws about which crimes render you ineligible to vote, and many felons are not well versed in the law. It certainly sucks to lose your probation because you tried to do your civic duty.
Republicans who support tighter voter security say that they are not seeking political advantage. But last summer Pennsylvania’s Republican House Leader, Mike Turzai, was caught on tape boasting to colleagues that the state’s new I.D. law was “going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” Earlier this month, a state judge suspended the controversial law’s implementation until after the 2012 election; a federal court has done the same with South Carolina’s new I.D. law."
Lots of voter registration errors though. e.g. registrations not culled when the voter moves away.
As far as dead men voting. I'm aware of two in this election. They voted absentee with the reasonable expectation they would no longer be living on election day. Legality apparently varies by state.
Voter ID does nothing to prevent this sort of thing: the election officials in “friendly” precincts can just wink at forged or missing ID.
And voter ID makes a certain kind of election-skewing even easier, since officials in “unfriendly” precinct can discourage people from voting by rejecting valid ID, or simply by spending so long examining the IDs and arguing with the voters that everyone has to wait for hours in order to vote.
People are convicted and go to jail for it. Not many, but some. Saying they don't seriously undermines the credibility of the argument.
Some numbers I can find for Texas: they convict about 5 people/year for voter fraud, of which 0.3/year are of the false-identity variety. (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/voter-fraud-real-rare/st...)
Those strategists are smart and they know exactly what happens if you make it harder for the down-trodden to vote.
Moderate, intelligent Republicans should be embarrassed by Voter ID. Is this the small government you keep referring to?
There is a lot of conspiracy theory going around, but not much solid evidence of irregular voting outside noise levels. Especially true because of how closely the outcome matched polls: it seems unlikely that these mythical ballot-stuffers were also able to somehow rig all the telephone polls over the past few months, so that the eventual results would match.
Philly county has 644,768 total votes currently with close to 100% reporting.
10% rather than 8% of that total is (generously) 65,000
Current lead for Obama in PA? 284,000 votes
So even if we amplify your 8% claim to 10% and over-round it is still not even close to making a difference.
Also if you are going to make claims about such contentious things it would be nice to cite some source.
My numbers above come from google's election results site
Taking a more nuanced view, one way the numbers could be true is by people voting in specific precincts that they don't live in. I.E. they go to the polling place near work not home. Which would just mean that one PA vote is counted in a different part of the state, not actually affecting the outcome.
States have different rules governing this kind of thing and I have no idea what the laws in PA are like.
Unfortunately, it happens everywhere and from both sides.
I don't think it's even a good metric.