Tag Archives: Romney

Losing the Forest for the Trees

TechPresident was out with a great article last month which analyzed how the presidential campaigns have leveraged social media thus far in 2012. The author points out that they’ve drilled into micro-targeting, data mining, and hyper-segmentation. Where once campaigns focused on “white women over 65,” now they are after “the middle child who likes Jay-Z, studied philosophy, plays trombone and tweets about Mad Men.” It’s an extreme, but just barely. The author draws three conclusions from this new approach.

First, too much of the mainstream political media coverage of tech’s role in the campaign falls for the digital candy

Second, compared to 2004 or 2008, in 2012 the relative balance of power between campaigns and voters–in terms of how they use interactive communications technologies to influence the course of the election, has subtly but substantially shifted back toward the campaigns.

Third, both the Obama and Romney campaigns are deeply and quietly invested in plugging into their supporters’ social networks, a process I called “Facebookization.” Unlike four years ago, when we saw a flowering of user-generated Facebook groups (led by the “Million Strong for Obama”), here the game is all about the campaigns’ ability to access their supporters’ social graph, mine them for insights and then presumably make sophisticated and targeted use of word-of-mouth networks.

The big campaigns are fine tuning their message to make sure it gets in front of the right people. They’ve mistaken powerful tools  as sources of information instead of as new mediums for conversation. Here at Voters Act, we feel that the new approach misses the point. Social media isn’t about targeting people more effectively – voters have proven that they’re increasingly unaffected by political messaging – instead, social media is about giving your supporters a narrative worth sharing. While the current strategy reaches ever-deeper into our online information, social media’s real strength allow unparalleled outreach so that your supporters can tell their friends why you should be elected.

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BREAKING: Voters Prefer Political Communication From Neighbors

FiveThirtyEight has a post today comparing the early infrastructure of the Obama and Romney campaigns. Obama has a decided early advantage. Towards the end of the article, the author draws attention to the correlation between personalized voter communication and more votes. What 2012 will show is that that personal communication, while evermore important, is no longer dependent on expensive field offices and paid staff. We’ll start to see similar gains correlated to online outreach amongst peers on behalf of campaigns.

A national campaign’s localized outreach — field offices, staff and volunteers — helps a candidate contact voters in a more personal manner. Potential voters have been shown to be more receptive when contacted by someone in their community rather than by a television commercial or automated phone call.

In 2008, about a fourth of all voters were contacted in some way by the Obama campaign. Mr. McCain’s campaign contacted 18 percent of general-election voters. A FiveThirtyEight study from just after the 2008 election found that “each marginal 10-point advantage in contact rate translated into a marginal 3-point gain in the popular vote in that state.”

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Political Messaging Increasingly Moving Online

The Romney campaign estimates that one-third of voters in Wisconsin (where the primary was held this past Tuesday) won’t see political ads on local television. While the majority of campaign funds will still go to television advertising, the effectiveness of this platform is rapidly becoming negligible. These voters are increasingly being sought online instead.

An article in the New York Times explains the change in strategy.

The Romney campaign and a team of online behavior analysts have spent 18 months trying to fight television advertising’s law of diminishing returns, sifting through data on the browsing habits of tens of millions of computer users as the campaign builds a richly detailed cache of potential supporters.

In doing so, Mr. Romney’s strategists are hoping to turn the Web into a political persuasion tool, signaling a shift in the way modern campaigns view digital advertising. It is no longer merely a supplement for traditional media like television. In some cases, it is a substitute entirely.

A survey conducted last May on voters’ television viewing habits, which is often cited by Romney advisers, found that 31 percent of likely voters had not watched television “live” — that is, at the time it was being broadcast, as opposed to online or on a recording device — in the previous week. And of the 17 percent who said they mostly watched programs recorded on devices like a D.V.R., a large majority skipped through ads most of the time.

Online outreach is still in its infancy, but it’s becoming clear that the internet is the battleground of future elections.

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