June 23, 2013

The Obama Campaign and Big Data

Strikingly accurate representation of demographic most targeted by Obama
Here's an NYT Magazine article about a bunch of Obama Campaign quants who have decided to make their fortunes by letting corporate America (e.g., the nice folks at Caesar's Palace) use the same Big Data Mind Control techniques that Obama used in 2012 to motivate unmotivated voters like the representative Obama-leaning couch-potato illustrated above.
Data You Can Believe In
The Obama Campaign’s Digital Masterminds Cash In
by Jim Rutenberg

Rutenberg is a political reporter, not a business reporter, so he tends to be blown away by the claims of ex-Obama staffers now starting up marketing data firms that they are radically out ahead of corporate America in their capabilities.
Grisolano and McLean and the others were part of a singular breakthrough in the field of television-ad buying, where about 50 percent of the campaign’s budget was spent, or more than $400 million. Previous campaigns would make decisions about how to direct their television-advertising budgets largely based on hunches and deductions about what channels the voters they wanted to reach were watching. Their choices were informed by the broad viewership ratings of Nielsen and other survey data, which typically led to buying relatively expensive ads during evening-news and prime-time viewing hours. The 2012 campaign took advantage of advanced set-top-box monitoring technology to figure out what shows the voters they wanted to reach were watching and when, resulting in a smarter and cheaper — if potentially more invasive — way to beam commercials into their homes. ...
The system gave Obama a significant advantage over Mitt Romney, according to Democrats and many Republicans (at least those who were not on Romney’s media team).

I think a more defensible argument is that at least the Obama staffers didn't loot the campaign the way some of Romney's consultants did. Obama took lots of functions in-house and paid salaries, while Romney hired consultants and paid their marked-up fees.
Now A.M.G.’s founders say the company is at the forefront of a move to turn upside down the way the $60-billion-a-year television-ad market has functioned since its start. And they hope to get very rich in the process.  

This article's notion that political marketers are so much more sophisticated than consumer marketers that the young guns of Obama 2012 will "disrupt" the way big business operates is not very plausible sounding. Political marketing has always lagged behind corporate marketing because of problems like lack of continuity and reliance on fashionable gurus who have gotten hot lately. The Obama campaign was able to maintain a core from 2008 to 2012, while poor Romney just hired a bunch of fast-talking consultants who saw him as their fat cat chance to pay for their kids' college educations off of a few months' work.
But Gershkoff had come upon a cache of data that all the strategists would come to appreciate. She had contracted with a relatively new firm called Rentrak that was competing with Nielsen and was buying up real-time, raw viewing data directly from cable and satellite companies that had nearly 20 million set-top boxes in eight million homes. When Gershkoff told Grisolano, he was thrilled. Rentrak’s huge new trove of data, he surmised, could help him find out with relative certainty what shows were being delivered to the homes of the roughly 15 million persuadable voters Wagner’s department had identified.  
Fortunately, there happened to be a rare expert in set-top-box data, named Carol Davidsen, working in the cave. ... Her previous employer, Navic Networks, was a very early pioneer in the field of set-top-box data collection. And she was one of the early programmers to figure out how to make a television, designed as a one-way path for sending programming into American homes, relay information back about what exactly a viewer was watching. 
Davidsen determined that Rentrak could roughly do what Grisolano wanted it to do: produce data that could be checked against Wagner’s list of most-persuadable voters to find matches. Rentrak had access to the set-top boxes in the homes of thousands of the targeted voters in every competitive market of every swing state.

This sounds like science fiction, right? Wow, the Obama campaign must have been light-years ahead of corporate America: they're capturing  data on what people were watching from set-top cable boxes!

Except I was doing exactly that for the BehaviorScan market research service on the Procter & Gamble account in 1983-85. For about 30,000 volunteer consumers, we knew every single thing they bought at every supermarket and drug store in town, plus every TV show and commercial they watched in their homes, and we could send different commercials to individual houses via their cable set-top-box.

The set-top box recorded the exact channel each panelist was tuned to by the second. We then employed workers to watch videotapes of all TV shows shown in those markets and write down which commercials started when.

My friend Chris managed the night shift of people who had been attracted to the notion of a job being paid to watch TV. Unsurprisingly, when they found out they had to fast-forward through the shows and only watch the commercials, they weren't the most diligent workers. Every time Chris went to the bathroom, they'd run off to a different floor and party. But they weren't hard to track down because they'd immediately turn their boomboxes up loud and start to boogie. He fired a few and they filed racial discrimination complaints with the EEOC. A federal investigator came by, but he turned out to be a fellow Irish-American Chicagoan; Chris's boombox story cracked him up and he closed the case.
(For instance, Rentrak had 100,000 people in its Denver sample, some 20,000 of whom were on the Obama list; Nielsen had a total of 600 people in Denver.) 

But there are lots of market research firms far more ambitious than Nielsen is with its TV ratings. The reason Nielsen always has only a tiny sample size and lags far behind in technology is because it has a monopoly on TV ratings and people seem to like it that way: they like having one set of ratings that sound authoritative because there aren't any competitors. Arbitron, which long had a radio ratings monopoly tried to get into the TV ratings game way back in the 1980s, but there wasn't much client enthusiasm.

Ad-buyers and ad-sellers both agree to use the same set of numbers, even if the quality to cost ratio is mediocre. One problem is that if you switch ratings companies then there will inevitably be changes in ratings due to the switchover, which drive clients crazy. Do you want to be the marketing research executive at CBS who has to explain to Les Moonves and Chuck Lorre that the change in ratings of Two and a Half Men from last week to this week that you are reporting is probably not real, but is just caused because you dumped Nielsen and signed up with a new lower-cost competitor that does things a little differently? For various reasons like these, monopolies or cartels in the various ratings business are remarkably defensible and enduring.
... The campaign determined that two of the top shows to buy were 1 a.m. repeats of “The Insider” and afternoon episodes of “Judge Joe Brown” — shows that were far cheaper than the evening news or anything being shown on the networks in prime time.  

The unsettling finding of our 1980s Big Data business was that it wasn't readily apparent from this vast amount of information we collected on consumers that changes in TV advertising had much impact on viewers' purchasing behavior. When we started testing and tracking, most brand managers were convinced that they could boost sales for existing consumer packaged goods by doubling their ad budgets, but our unbelievably sophisticated real world laboratory tests seldom showed that was true. About the best we could come up with is that if you have some actual news to tell consumers -- e.g., you've added a breakthrough ingredient to your toothpaste that is endorsed by the American Dental Association because it's so effective -- yeah, then heavy advertising move the needle. But for most famous old products, where all you have to tell consumers is the same old same old, more ads don't necessarily sell more product ...

This doesn't mean that TV advertising of consumer packaged goods is wasted. You certainly need advertising to get most new brands off the ground. After that, however, heavy advertising may mostly serve a deterrent effect of keeping out new entrants. Many CPG categories are something of a cartel, with the same famous brand names dominating decade after decade, in part because many CPG products work pretty satisfactorily and the CPG firms pay huge amounts of money to remind you that these products have long-established reputations as satisfactory.
In the end, an analysis by the Republican ad-buying firm National Media found that Obama paid roughly 35 percent less per broadcast commercial than Romney did.

To a lot of GOP consultants, who get paid because they pocket 15% of the cost of buying ads, the money wasted by the Romney campaign may have been less a bug than a feature.

The article goes on to lament how the one-time Obama saints are now selling out to corporate America, but the Obama employees getting rich off corporate America tomorrow seems more effective than the Republican consultants' tendency to try to get rich off the candidate today.

The big difference between what the Obama campaign could do in 2012 and what CPG marketers could do a generation before is in data mining social media, pushing the already well-pushed envelope of privacy.
The campaign didn’t go into much detail, at the time, about exactly how it used Facebook. But St. Clair put it in fairly stark terms when I talked to him at A.M.G.’s temporary offices in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in April. They started with a list that grew to a million people who had signed into the campaign Web site through Facebook. When people opted to do so, they were met with a prompt asking to grant the campaign permission to scan their Facebook friends lists, their photos and other personal information. In another prompt, the campaign asked for access to the users’ Facebook news feeds, which 25 percent declined, St. Clair said. 
Once permission was granted, the campaign had access to millions of names and faces they could match against their lists of persuadable voters, potential donors, unregistered voters and so on. “It would take us 5 to 10 seconds to get a friends list and match it against the voter list,” St. Clair said. They found matches about 50 percent of the time, he said. But the campaign’s ultimate goal was to deputize the closest Obama-supporting friends of voters who were wavering in their affections for the president. “We would grab the top 50 you were most active with and then crawl their wall” to figure out who were most likely to be their real-life friends, not just casual Facebook acquaintances. St. Clair, a former high-school marching-band member who now wears a leather Diesel jacket, explained: “We asked to see photos but really we were looking for who were tagged in photos with you, which was a really great way to dredge up old college friends — and ex-girlfriends,” he said. 
The campaign’s exhaustive use of Facebook triggered the site’s internal safeguards. “It was more like we blew through an alarm that their engineers hadn’t planned for or knew about,” said St. Clair, who had been working at a small firm in Chicago and joined the campaign at the suggestion of a friend. “They’d sigh and say, ‘You can do this as long as you stop doing it on Nov. 7.’ ”

No bias there! It probably didn't hurt that Facebook billionaire Chris Hughes had been an Obama campaign official in 2008.

Back in the BehaviorScan day, we only used data from volunteers who signed up in writing, we gave them money and prizes for it, and we certainly didn't extract data from their friends.

My presumption is that being able to show more closely targeted ads to the average individual is modestly profitable, but quickly gets countered, and life goes on.

In contrast, knowing a lot about certain individuals can be hugely profitable. If you happened to have the metadata from the CEO of General Electric's cellphone calls, you could probably make some serious money in the stock market anticipating mergers and acquisitions.

If you had happened to have, say, the cellphone metadata of Senator Larry Craig (R-Wide Stance), you could also make money. Hmmmhmmmhmm, the Senator spends a lot of time in public men's rooms ... maybe we should send him some coupons to promote our client's intestinal relief product? Or ... maybe ... we should blackmail him into inserting an obscure clause into tax legislation that will make us zillions of dollars? Which one sounds like a higher ROI?

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Big Data is Watching you.

Invasion of the Big Data.

imatzzo fence said...

The campaign determined that two of the top shows to buy were ... afternoon episodes of “Judge Joe Brown

Yeah, those viewers needed some political persuadin'!

little miss sheet stirrer said...

The facebook guy is Chris Hughes, not Hedges. He and his 'husband' are going to try to buy a Congressional seat in upstate Shokan, NY:

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/02/chris-hughes-buys-house-sean-eldridge-congress-district.html

countenance said...

For all the hemming and hawing over how Big Data saved Obama's bacon in 2012, it all would have been considered a bust if 700,000 more people in four states turned out for Romney. The Occam's Razor explanation for why Obama won re-election is that incumbent politicians are hard to beat.

blogger said...

What boggles my mind is why Americans are addicted to all the crap on TV.

I hear over and over, now that cinema is for young teenage boys into superhero movies, TV is where the real intelligent culture is.

So, I finally decided to watch some LOST and BREAKING BAD--highly praised as 'one of the best TV shows ever'--, and found them to be utter crap.
I lasted about 40 min of LOST before I gave up.
BREAKING BAD was just retarded.

I thought SOPRANOS was sick and SIX FOOT UNDER was dumb.

People are morons and morons are easily swayed by stuff like TV commercials.

sunbeam said...

You know it seems to me that there is a new frontier to be explored when it comes to politics.

Totally discard what is assumed to be known about the business of winning elections.

Hire people who sell products for a living. Tell them the candidate is a product. Tell them that a vote for that candidate is the sale.

Then let them do it however they want to do it. No pollsters, no consultants. Just a pure marketing campaign run the same way someone would sell soap (or Viagra).

I just have to wonder how it would do. I have a feeling that the conventional wisdom would never know what hit it.

anony-mouse said...

My understanding is that 'The Kids' are dropping FB and that a lot of people's 'friends' aren't really friends anyways.

And fewer and fewer people are watching TV (and instead are commenting on other people's websites?)

Anonymous said...

So am I the only one to notice that Alison Schumer, Facebook's director of policy and communications, is very likely the daughter of U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer?

Jeff W. said...

Let's say that most Congressmen have Blackberries or other cellphones that use Verizon. Let's also say that the NSA has a direct pipeline into Verizon so that they can record every phone call and get all the metadata.

How about that as "one weird trick to increase your congressional appropriation?"

Forget selling soap to women in small-town Wisconsin. The surveillance state probably has a budget of $100 billion a year! That's the the use of Big Data that I'm talking about!

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/06/09/Snooping-Concerns-Emerge-Over-Congressional-Blackberries-Serviced-By-Verizon

Anonymous said...

You're awesome, Steve.

This is a similar phenomenon to coat-tail investors that Buffett talks about. I'm not sure if he coined the term or not, but the phenomenon is very real.

What would it have been worth to be able to see Buffett's telephone metadata over the years, or better yet see the trades his trader makes?

If you own the right information networks, you don't need to be an investing genius, all you need to be able to do is to identify them.

Anonymous said...

http://dailycaller.com/2013/06/23/buchanan-hispanic-influx-from-immigration-bill-could-break-us-into-two-countries/

Not gonna happen.

But I think southern and sw states should really do stuff to make blacks and browns move up north. spread news and info about how welcoming and generous libs are.

the way I see it, lots of northern white libs are 'progressive' cuz diversity affects them far less. Mexico adjoins Texas and Arizona.

as long as mexers ruin white conservatives in SW, northern white libs don't care. So, SW states must do something to push browns to northern areas. only that way will they feel the full brunt of diversity.

America is like Northern Europe. Upper regions are less diverse than lower regions. yet, upper regions preach diversity as an ideal since they don't have to deal with it. And they get much info about 'diversity' from media run by globalists.

maybe cons should push the concept of state-by-state diversity. how come vermont is so lacking in diversity? Shame!!!

blogger said...

Is it possible to Hispanglocize all of us by changing our last names?

It might work. Gubblez sounds okay.

Anonymous said...

This would be national news if the attackers were white.

Anonymous said...

America, half-baked nation of couchpotato heads. This is what nerds and geeks do with Americans.

dufus maximus said...

"The campaign determined that two of the top shows to buy were ... afternoon episodes of “Judge Joe Brown

"Yeah, those viewers needed some political persuadin'!"

Yes, they did. They needed to be reminded that the gravytrain might come to an end if that white devil Romney got elected, so get out there and vote, vote, vote, y'alls! Word.

Hunsdon said...

Next time out the GOP candidate should insert a "we lose, you kick back 75%" clause with his consultants.

peterike said...

All this yammer about buying ads and money spent on campaigns is nonsense, because none of it takes into account the FREE political advertising Obama received from the media. Has anyone monetized the value of Jon Stewart, Colbert and Bill Maher? Of Oprah Winfrey? Of various rock stars? Of nearly every political media broadcast on every channel? Of nearly every newspaper and magazine that took a political stance? The overt bias of the debate moderators?

What was all THAT worth to Obama? How many billions worth of free advertising?

Given the giant thumb that was on the scale for Obama, it's a miracle Romney did as well as he did.

Anonymous said...

So am I the only one to notice that Alison Schumer, Facebook's director of policy and communications, is very likely the daughter of U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer?

All through hard work I tell you!

Anonymous said...

@sunbeam: That's literally how JFK's team worked. He even had his own jingle.

Alcalde Jaime Miguel Curleo said...

Ad-buyers and ad-sellers both agree to use the same set of numbers, even if the quality to cost ratio is mediocre. One problem is that if you switch ratings companies then there will inevitably be changes in ratings due to the switchover, which drive clients crazy

Sounds like Mort Zuckerman's university rankings "quantification" with established parameters the administrators can calibrate to. Might be better than an illusory cross-check like S&P/Moody's/Fitch

Anonymous said...

It's not only a strikingly accurate portrayal of the demographic Obama targeted, it's just as accurate a portrayal of the analysts who targeted said demographic.

Anonymous said...

I think a more defensible argument is that at least the Obama staffers didn't loot the campaign the way some of Romney's consultants did. Obama took lots of functions in-house and paid salaries, while Romney hired consultants and paid their marked-up fees.

Romney and his campaign staff probably bought their own BS since Romney himself and probably much of his campaign staff came from the consulting world. Namely that consultants are supposed to be geniuses who deserve huge fees and that you don't need good employees that get paid decently - you just need to hire some consultants and lower wages for employees by outsourcing or bringing in immigrants or just firing the employees altogether.

Anonymous said...

(Hmmmhmmmhmm, the Senator spends a lot of time in public men's rooms ... maybe we should send him some coupons for an intestinal relief product?

More like Preparation H and Listerine.

Steve Sailer said...

"Romney and his campaign staff probably bought their own BS since Romney himself and probably much of his campaign staff came from the consulting world."

Right. The history of the world is basically that what gets big things done is building an organization of good, dedicated, motivated people who are around long enough to build up some expertise.

Anonymous said...

If Obama's campaign was so magically quantlicious why did they lavish time/money on certain-to-lose North Carolina and in-the-bag Pennsylvania? N.B. their vaunted strategic genius precludes the all-purpose journalist explanation that it was "to force Romney to spend money in those states," due to bordering Ohio and Va. Was it merely to butter up the local party ward-heelers in those 2 foreordained states?

jody said...

it still makes no sense. with all their "advanced technology", obama got 3.5 million votes LESS.

people buying their services must not be very smart. nothing says "this stuff works" like bringing in 3.5 million FEWER votes. imagine if they lost your company 3.5 billion dollars from one fiscal year to the next, then tried to tell you they did a good job, and you should keep paying them?

obama 2008: 69,498,516 votes
obama 2012: 65,899,660 votes

that's a decrease of 3,598,856 votes.

mccain 2008: 59,948,323 votes
romney 2012: 60,932,152 votes

that's an increase of 983,829 votes. so the "dumb" republicans who have "low tech or no tech" got almost 1 million MORE votes. yet they're the backwards, low tech old tech guys here?

not that i think they're smart of did a good job. they aren't and they didn't. but these repeated claims that the democrats outsmarted their opponents and were light years ahead in this stuff, it doesn't wash. they definitely did not outsmart anybody, except maybe the media, who employs reporters who cannot even do basic math.

in the end the song remains the same. you can't beat free. democrats offer free, and enough people go for that over anything else. except in one case.

want free money? hell yeah.
want free housing? you bet.
want free food? bring it on.
want a free cell phone? you know it!

want a free ID so you can vote?

HELL NO. GET THAT SHIT OUT OF HERE.

DAMN REPUBLICANS, TRYING TO GIVE US FREE IDS.

blogger said...

In the early 90s, The Nation magazine was staunchly against NAFTA while National Review and the likes of Ann Coulter were for it.

Looks like the superrich who gained most from 'free trade' are now chummier with the 'left' and gay lobby than with conservatives. So, Hanson and Coulter are pissed. But weren't they the ones who'd pushed the GOP to suck up to the superrich in the past? How were they helping the American middle class and working class back then?

blogger said...

"All this yammer about buying ads and money spent on campaigns is nonsense, because none of it takes into account the FREE political advertising Obama received from the media."

What this proves is that quality trumps quantity. You don't have to win elections to keep winning. Libs lost elections in the 80s to Reagan and Bush, but they were winning cuz they were gaining quality power in government and elite institutions and corporations. Liberal boomers like Steve Jobs and Spielberg were raking in lot more than conservative boomers.

Conservatives need to do some soul-searching. They oppose affirmative action in the name of championing excellence, but conservatives have lagged libs in excellence in math, science, computers, arts, culture, intelletualism, etc.

slumber_j said...

My brother-in-law used to work for TeleRep, the biggest TV billing company in the country, and he says it's common wisdom in the industry that the reason everyone sticks with Nielsen is that they habitually overstate true viewership by a significant margin.

V05 said...

Steve, I don't care what the people say, you're on a roll. This post and the one on Hastings are both the sort of bedrock type things that disperse the truth among my 81% white, above -average intelligence, 30 something, overeducated, mid-middle class demographic. Truth is beauty.

V05 said...

If truth is beauty you're Tuesday Weld this week.

Anonymous said...

For various reasons like these, monopolies or cartels in the various ratings business are remarkably defensible and enduring.

I think this also applies to the credit ratings industry, which is dominated by the Moody's, S&P, and Fitch cartel:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Three_%28credit_rating_agencies%29#2007-2010_financial_crisis

"In their book on the crisis, journalists Bethany McLean, and Joe Nocera, criticized rating agencies for continuing "to slap their triple-A [ratings]s on subprime securities even as the underwriting deteriorated -- and as the housing boom turned into an outright bubble" in 2005, 2006, 2007."

Anonymous said...

Many CPG categories are something of a cartel, with the same famous brand names dominating decade after decade, in part because many CPG products work pretty satisfactorily and the CPG firms pay huge amounts of money to remind you that these products have long-established reputations as satisfactory.

Most of the CPG brands are owned by 10 multinational corps:

http://thepoliticalcarnival.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/10-multinational-corporations-control-most-consumer-brands.jpg

Steve Sailer said...

"the reason everyone sticks with Nielsen is that they habitually overstate true viewership by a significant margin."

Presumably just about everybody pays a little less per rating point than they would if the ratings weren't overstated, but you can see how this would deter newcomers. Say you develop a highly accurate methodology for your new service, and it shows almost all shows being overstated. Who wants to know that? It just makes everybody in the industry look bad, so until you can come up with numbers as inflated as the old ones, who wants your worthless ratings?

Up until 1986, the similar CPG market share ratings business was a not very competitive cartel divided up between Nielsen and SAMI, which delivered market share estimates that can be charitably described as "stylized." The two firms's numbers were reasonably consistent from month to month, but disagreed with each other because they used quite different methodologies involving clipboards and pencils. So clients didn't want to switch, so prices were high.

Then InfoScan came along with supermarket scanner data for an order of magnitude more supermarkets, driving SAMI out of business and Nielsen into investing vastly to stay competitive. But the two survivors methodologies were much more accurate, so the disruption to clients of switching back and forth was much smaller. It turned out that the truth was a commodity, and you don't want to be in a commodity business.

Harry Baldwin said...

In the early 90s, The Nation magazine was staunchly against NAFTA while National Review and the likes of Ann Coulter were for it.

Wasn't NAFTA--signed into law on Jan 1, 1994--a little before Ann Coulter's time? I recall her first coming on the scene in conjunction with the Paula Jones case, which began in May of that year.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the superrich who gained most from 'free trade' are now chummier with the 'left' and gay lobby than with conservatives.



"Now"? The superrich have always been staunchly left-wing in their political outlook.

Silver said...

"the reason everyone sticks with Nielsen is that they habitually overstate true viewership by a significant margin."

But is it very likely that they're overstating true viewership by the same margin for all shows? If viewership for some shows is ludicrously overstated and less so for others, why wouldn't ad-buyers benefit from more accurate numbers? Or is it all much of a muchness anyway?

Silver said...

So, I finally decided to watch some LOST and BREAKING BAD--highly praised as 'one of the best TV shows ever'--, and found them to be utter crap.

I never watched LOST when it was on TV (I don't watch any TV expect sporting events) but I gave it a shot last year and couldn't watch more than 10 minutes. I tried again last week and got hooked. I've now watched almost the entire first season. I couldn't watch any of the episodes again but watching them once has provided a enjoyable, throwaway mind-expanding tingle.

The problem with light entertainment is that it's time-consuming and that it's just light entertainment. It does very little to help you grow as a person, and in many ways retards you. The trick is to be entertained in a way that helps you grow, but our present culture does nothing to help us come to this realization.

Anonymous said...

"I tried again last week and got hooked. I've now watched almost the entire first season."

All I saw was this fat guy running around more than all the other characters combined. Maybe he should try out for the marathon.

Big Bill said...

"Is it possible to Hispanglocize all of us by changing our last names? "

Depends on what you are applying for. If all you want is to get an extra edge for a promotion or insure that you were not let go in the first round of layoffs, a pseudo-Hispanic last name is sufficient. Likewise for college admissions.

On the other hand, to get a government Hispanic contract you have to be a certified Hispanic. The government arranges with racial certification agencies to perform the certification work. They visit your home, interview you, give you questionnaires to fill out, etc.

Of course, if your birth certificate says you are "Negro" that is enough even for the agencies.

With a good lawyer it is quite possible to get your race changed on your birth certificate in many jurisdictions. Once you do that, you are in like Flynn. No one challenges a birth certificate.

Once your birth certificate has been "corrected" to say "Negro" you have the benefit of passing it down to your children like a perpetual inheritance.

Big Bill said...

"Looks like the superrich who gained most from 'free trade' are now chummier with the 'left' and gay lobby than with conservatives. "

They have figured out how to make a buck off of "social justice". Once they did that, there was no stopping them.

For years bankers fought regulators who insisted that the bankers offer mortgages to ghetto dwellers. Once the bankers reversed course and got the Feds to guarantee those mortgages no matter how crappy they were, it became a very profitable new market. The banks' money was no longer at risk, the taxpayers' money was..

The key is in figuring out how to socialize the costs of affirmative action and privatize the profits.

Art Deco said...

Wasn't NAFTA--signed into law on Jan 1, 1994--a little before Ann Coulter's time? I recall her first coming on the scene in conjunction with the Paula Jones case, which began in May of that year.

IIRC, Coulter was a working lawyer up until about 1998 and did provide some professional counsel in that case. (I think she interviewed Jones at an early stage). Antecedent to that, she had founded a starboard alternative paper at Cornell University ca. 1982, so there was some precedent for her later career as a professional polemicist. I think it was an unfortunate choice for her. She could be funny, once upon a time, but has been running on fumes for a while, essentially playing Ann Coulter. Charles Krauthammer's best work was published a generation ago when he was not producing for a daily grind and he was much closer in time to his roots in the psychiatric profession. By contrast, the Powerline trio have remained within the world of banking and law where they have always earned their living, blogged avocationally, and have not deteriorated with time. Some people have only so many interesting words in them, at least when they are not nurtured by an occupational world devoted to something other than producing words.

Anonymous said...

O/T Steve, would you publish a link to the contact information for all 100 U.S. Senators

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?OrderBy=state&Sort=ASC

and ask your readers to make a phone call to both their senators? We probably can't stop this immigration expansion bill in the Senate, but we need to get the troops mobilized for the battle in the House.

Anonymous said...

There's something depressing about the premise of all this political marketing/consulting stuff.

Surely a system in which winning elections depends on cajoling apathetic Facebook users into pulling the lever for Obama is a pretty dumb way to run a railroad.

I sometimes think that a lot of the perverse influence of money and power on the political process could be mitigated by substantially restricting the franchise. I.e., you couldn't vote if you're on the dole, or under 25, or fail to pass a civic literacy test administered like the driving test at the DMV.

It seems to me that a narrower electorate would be one in which, say, peddling the Obama brand on Facebook would play less of a role.

I would add that such a system would be more democratic, inasmuch as informed and thoughtful voters would not be diluted by marginal participants induced to vote by slick, expensive, and shallow marketing drives.

Of course, it's academic because it would never happen.

David said...

"it wasn't readily apparent from this vast amount of information we collected on consumers that changes in TV advertising had much impact on viewers' purchasing behavior"

Clients were made aware of this, weren't they? (I'm sure they wouldn't listen.)

The problem with a culture of salesmanship is having something to sell. Look at the product today, e.g., Obummer.

There are more people born every minute, and fewer things of substance to sell them. Maybe the climate change weirdos are right: a major American product is hot air.

David said...

Karl Rove is placing a call to Judge Joe Brown even as we type. 2016, baby!

slumber_j said...

@ Silver, and probably too late: I understood my brother-in-law's point to be that Nielsen is overstating even the *universe* of actual television viewers significantly. Which if true would increase ad prices for all shows and the ad budgets of the people at P&G or wherever, who like to wield big budgets and get taken out to dinner and stuff.

So if he's right, you get an unwarranted transfer from P&G (or Company X) shareholders to media shareholders, and almost everyone's happy. Almost.

David Davenport said...

By contrast, the Powerline trio have remained within the world of banking and law where they have always earned their living, blogged avocationally, and have not deteriorated with time.

Nor has the Powerline trio improved with time.

The late Larry Auster despised pompous Powerline.

Art Deco said...

The late Larry Auster despised pompous Powerline.

So what?

El Harsho said...

Big data did not defeat Romney. Romney defeated himself by refusing to promise anything different than Obama and refusing to criticize Obama. His entire campaign was "same as Obama but with a friendlier wife." It is true that the media was on Obama's side, but that gave Romney a chance-- which he refused to take, because he didn't really want to win-- for a little campaign jiu-jitsu: criticize Obama and let media overreaction publicize his point-- the media was so in love with Obama that they nauseated people with their bootlicking.

Young fogey emeritus said...

Strikingly accurate representation of demographic most targeted by Obama

Nah. He already owned them like he owned the black vote. '08 and '12 were about snowing/guilting Middle America.

Anonymous said...

It's like eXistenZ.