Posts Tagged ‘political polling’

From the pollsters’ lips to the teleprompter’s ears (and candidate’s lips) … but, what about the forest?

August 8, 2012

My students know that, at heart,  I’m a quant guy and encourage market research over gut feel.


So, I should salivate over the Obama campaigns reliance on market research, data mining, and precision messaging.

Excerpted from WSJ

The Obama campaign has elevated poll-testing and focus-grouping to near-clinical heights.

The results from his vaunted focus groups  drive the president’s every action: his policies, his campaign venues, his targeted demographics, his messaging.

More specifically, spotted an interesting analysis in The Hill:

Recent campaign spending records of the Obama campaign, disclosed that they’ve spent $15 million on polling since the first of the year.

Based on typical polling rate card, $15 million for polls translate to about 6 million minutes of polling time.

Assuming interview lengths of 10 minutes, that’s like 600,000 interviews.

Of course, “polling” doesn’t necessarily mean one-on-one interviewing.

Perhaps as much as a third of the $15 million may have been spent on focus groups and ad testing with dials.

Again, using normal rate cards,  upwards of 4,000 Americans may have been asked to participate in these test sessions.

Yep, from the pollsters lips to the teleprompter’s ears … to the candidate’s lips … to the voters ears.

So, what’s my beef?

First, lack of “authenticity” … a willingness to say anything to anybody if it polls well … even if it’s not true (e.g. the multiple Pinocchios that the Wash Post gave to the Bain outsourcing riff and the incredible “I spend less than any President since Harry Truman)

Second, a willingness to “tailor” the message to different groups or individuals … i.e. to pander shamelessly.

And, the larger point: losing the forest in the trees …  whipsawing based on minutiae and missing the big picture,

After all, it’s the economy, stupid.

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