Washington Libertarian Review

Political commentary from the State of Washington with a libertarian perspective.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Re-Search and Attack

The Washington Post has a fairly comprehensive post-mortem on the 11/2/04 presidential contest between Bush and Kerry, entitled "On Nov. 2, GOP Got More Bang For Its Billion, Analysis Shows". Although mostly devoted to the specifics of each campaign, the article does include some interesting observations, of which all political hacks should take note.

1. Even though Kerry outspent Bush in the long run Bush had it when it counted, in the beginning.

2. Rather than court the undecided vote, the Bush campaign went after the "soft" Republican vote (i.e., those who lean right but don't vote on a regular basis).

3. The most effective "527" PACs were those who went after the opposition, such as the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," rather than support their preference.

4. The Bush campaign raised statistical analysis in voter profiling and targeting to a new level. This snippet from the article explains:

Republican firms, including TargetPoint Consultants and National Media Inc., delved into commercial databases that pinpointed consumer buying patterns and television-watching habits to unearth such information as Coors beer and bourbon drinkers skewing Republican, brandy and cognac drinkers tilting Democratic; college football TV viewers were more Republican than those who watch professional football; viewers of Fox News were overwhelmingly committed to vote for Bush; homes with telephone caller ID tended to be Republican; people interested in gambling, fashion and theater tended to be Democratic.

Surveys of people on these consumer data lists were then used to determine "anger points" (late-term abortion, trial lawyer fees, estate taxes) that coincided with the Bush agenda for as many as 32 categories of voters, each identifiable by income, magazine subscriptions, favorite television shows and other "flags." Merging this data, in turn, enabled those running direct mail, precinct walking and phone bank programs to target each voter with a tailored message."

"You used to get a tape-recorded voice of Ronald Reagan telling you how important it was to vote. That was our get-out-the-vote effort," said Alex Gage, of TargetPoint. Now, he said, calls can be targeted to specific constituencies so that, for example, a "right to life voter" could get a call warning that "if you don't come out and vote, the number of abortions next year is going to go up. "

Dowd estimated that, in part through the work of TargetPoint and other research, the Bush campaign and the RNC were able to "quadruple the number" of Republican voters who could be targeted through direct mail, phone banks and knocking on doors.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Libertarians and Greens have no idea who are the most likely people to be willing to vote for a third party. As a result, they have no idea which districts would be the best to try to run a candidate to win.

Greens do better in Seattle than elsewhere, but part of that is due to the fact that those districts are so heavily Democratic that people are not worried about throwing an election to the Republicans.

Which districts would be best for Libertarians? We have no idea. This would be important research for the LPWS to do.

5:09 AM  
Blogger Richard Shepard said...

Libertarians and Greens did get to look at some polling results in connection with the "No on I-872" campaign last fall. The argument that I-872 would damage third parties did better in western Washington than it did in eastern Washington. More interesting were the facts that Democrats were more sympathetic to the argument than were Republicans, and that women were more sympathetic than men.

But, as far as I know, that is the only third party related polling that has been done in the last several years, perhaps decades. And it emphasizes the problem.

While the Ds and Rs are doing voter research and developing sophisticated target campaigns (e.g., "late-term abortion, trial lawyer fees, estate taxes," etc.) the third parties are blathering in the wilderness about fairness and justice and wondering who is listening.

There is no doubt in my mind that the LPWS needs, first, to develop a reliable fundraising apparatus, and second, to use the funds raised to conduct some polls that will (a) improve future fundraising results, and (b) identify our core constituencies, and (c) get them to vote Libertarian.

6:08 PM  

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