Wednesday, November 21, 2012

21st century politics

Years ago I had some experience door-knocking and phone-banking in political campaigns. But I was amazed to learn of some of the 21st century techniques used this year by the Obama campaign.

From Politico:

JIM MESSINA, Obama for America campaign manager, gave his first on-camera interview before a standing-room-only crowd at Playbook Breakfast: “What Targeted Sharing was -- and I think it's one of the most important things we did -- was a Facebook app that allowed you to go and match your Facebook world with our lists, and we say to you, ‘Mike, here are five friends of yours that we think are undecided in this race. Click here to send them a piece of viral content. Click here to send them a factsheet. Click here to ask them to support the President.’ … [I]t took us a year of some amazing work of our talented technology team to figure out how to do it. But we were able to contact over 5 million people directly through their Facebook worlds, and people that they knew. So, they're going to look if their friend … sends them something. They're going to look at it because they know that person. …

“What campaigns are evolving into, actually, in many ways, is a return to the past. Door-knocking is going to be even more important in the future … [H]ere's why … [T]he diffusion of American media makes it harder to get your message out and there's so much television … Citizens United created this huge cacophony of television in the final months of that campaign. And people got so much of it, a simple door-knock from a trusted neighbor really mattered more than anything else -- to say, ‘Hey, let me tell you why I'm supporting Barack Obama. I live down the street. Let me talk to an issue you care about.’ And that, we found, became incredibly important to how people were going to vote. …

“A friend of mine was door-knocking for us in Wisconsin a week before the election and he called and said, ‘Let me tell you the story about why I think you guys are running a smarter campaign. I was told to knock on two doors on one block. One was to chase an absentee ballot, and I watched the person fill it out and we mailed it together, and the second one was an undecided voter who I was given a very specific persuasion script … I had a great conversation, and I'm pretty sure that that person is going to vote for us on Election Day.’ He said, ‘One block, two doors, and only two doors.’ That is using volunteers' time more wisely. It's saying to them, ‘Every contact you're going to make is going to matter to us.’ And I think it allowed us to hit more doors and more effective doors than the Romney campaign.’ …

“We used data for everything, we modeled everything, trying to figure out how to use our time wisely. … We modeled every person who supported the President about whether or not they would volunteer. … [W]e had a whole bunch of data points: … your voting history, your giving history. Everything we knew about [you] allowed us to figure out whether or not you were going to volunteer. We even modeled whether or not people were going to be a better direct mail giver or an online giver. We did a test about a year ago with a piece of Michelle Obama mail that we split the universe in half and we did half the old way that direct mail consultants have been talking about for a very long time, and half using our data analytics world. … [T]he data analytics world over-performed by 14 percent -- which, in our world, is a bunch of money.” Story and video clips Full video

We have seen the future, and it works.

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