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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Congress and Cross-Pressures

At The Washington Post, Chris Cillizza reinforces a point that Nate Silver has made:
Of the 234 Republicans elected to the House on Nov. 6, just 15 (!) sit in congressional districts that Obama also won that day, according to calculations made by the Cook Political Report’s ace analyst David Wasserman. That’s an infinitesimally small number, particularly when compared with the 63 House Republicans who held seats where Obama had won following the 2010 midterm elections.
The Senate landscape paints the same picture — this time looking forward. Of the 13 states where the 14 Republican Senators will stand for reelection in 2014 (South Carolina has two, with Lindsey O. Graham and Tim Scott up in two years time), Obama won just one in 2012 — Maine. In the remaining dozen states, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won only one, Georgia, by less than double digits. The average margin of victory for Romney across the 13 states was 19.5 percentage points; take out Maine, and Romney’s average margin was 22 points in the remaining 12 states.
The picture on the Democratic side is less clear. Although 96 percent of House Democrats in the 113th Congress will hold seats Obama won in November, according to Wasserman, fully one-third of the 21 Senate Democrats who will stand for reelection in 2014 represent states that Romney won.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Cave

In writing about what struck as the president's essential aloofness, I said there were echoes of it even in his organization. I referred to a recent hiring notice from the Obama 2012 campaign. "It read like politics as done by Martians. The 'Analytics Department' is looking for 'predictive Modeling/Data Mining' specialists to join the campaign's 'multi-disciplinary team of statisticians,' which will use 'predictive modeling' to anticipate the behavior of the electorate. 'We will analyze millions of interactions a day, learning from terabytes of historical data, running thousands of experiments, to inform campaign strategy and critical decisions.' "
This struck me as "high tech and bloodless." I didn't quite say it, but it all struck me as inhuman, unlike any politics I'd ever seen.
It was unlike any politics I'd ever seen. And it won the 2012 campaign. Those "Martians" were reinventing how national campaigns are done. They didn't just write a new political chapter with their Internet outreach, vote-tracking data-mining and voter engagement, especially in the battleground states. They wrote a whole new book. And it was a masterpiece.
Hats off. In some presidential elections, something big changes, and if you're watching close you can learn a lesson. This was mine: The national game itself has changed. And it's probably going to be a while before national Republicans can duplicate or better what the Democrats have done.
In the immediate aftermath of the 2012 presidential campaign – like any campaign – two things happened: the winners went to bragging and the losers started pointing fingers. One thing became clear. Obama for America’s digital, technology, and analytics teams were indispensable in securing the president’s reĆ«lection.
OFA was, far and away, the most sophisticated political organization on the planet. And Republicans needed to learn from them. So we set about gathering insights, data, and anecdotes from hundreds of news articles, blog posts, interviews, podcasts, and presentations. Our findings have been collected and organized into a single slide deck called Inside the Cave, which you can download here.
The Cave is what OFA called the windowless room that housed their analytics team. Like digital in 2008, analytics came of age in the 2012 campaign. OFA’s analytics team had 50 staffers. By comparison, the Romney-Ryan campaign had a data team of 4 people.
Mashable sums up lessons from the slide deck.  One involves campaign finance:
Obama raised $690 million online in 2012, almost $200 million more than he did four years ago. More individuals donated online and the average donation was up from $126 to $156. How did Obama's team pull that off? Put simply: Testing and anxiety. EngageDC boiled it down to a three-step process:

1. Send A LOT more email than 2008 (at least 404 national fundraising emails in 2012).
2. Test everything.
3. Make people think they were going to lose.
Here is a June 26 fundraising email:
 I will be the first president in modern history to be outspent in his re-election campaign, if things continue as they have so far.
I'm not just talking about the super PACs and anonymous outside groups -- I'm talking about the Romney campaign itself. Those outside groups just add even more to the underlying problem.
The Romney campaign raises more than we do, and the math isn't hard to understand: Through the primaries, we raised almost three-quarters of our money from donors giving less than $1,000, while Mitt Romney's campaign raised more than three-quarters of its money from individuals giving $1,000 or more.
And, again, that's not including the massive outside spending by super PACs and front groups funneling up to an additional billion dollars into ads trashing me, you, and everything we believe in.
We can be outspent and still win -- but we can't be outspent 10 to 1 and still win.
More than 2.2 million Americans have already chipped in for us, and I'm so grateful for it. As we face this week's fundraising deadline, please make a donation of $3 or more today.
Every donation you make today automatically enters you to join Michelle and me for one of the last grassroots dinners of this campaign -- today is your last chance to get your name in.
These dinners represent how we do things differently. My opponent spent this past weekend at a secretive retreat for the biggest donors to both his campaign and the super PACs that support him.
I've got other responsibilities I'm attending to.
Donate today to stand for our kind of politics:
Thank you,

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Outside Money and a Montana Spoiler

Pro Publica reports on the Senate election in Montana, where 64 outside groups spent $21 million and party committees spent another $8.9 million. Between June and November, more TV spots ran in this Senate race than any other.  One outside group, Montana Hunters and Anglers, backed Libertarian Senate candidate Dan Cox, apparently with the intent of siphoning votes from Republican Denny Rehberg. The ploy worked: Cox's vote exceeded Tester's margin.
Liberal groups set up field offices, knocked on doors, featured "Montana" in their names or put horses in their TV ads. Many of them, including Montana Hunters and Anglers, were tied to a consultancy firm where a good friend of Jim Messina, President Barack Obama's campaign manager, is a partner.
Montana Republicans blamed Montana Hunters and Anglers, made up of a super PAC and a sister dark money nonprofit, for tipping the race. Even though super PACs have to report their donors, the Montana Hunters and Anglers super PAC functioned almost like a dark money group. Records show its major donors included an environmentalist group that didn't report its donors and two super PACs that in turn raised the bulk of their money from the environmentalist group, other dark money groups and unions.
Starting in July 2011, three new liberal dark money groups ran ads. Patriot Majority USAcriticized Republicans for allegedly planning to cut Medicare and help to seniors. ThePartnership to Protect Medicare praised Tester for opposing Medicare cuts.
And in October, weeks after forming, the dark money side of Montana Hunters and Anglers, Montana Hunters and Anglers Action!, launched its first TV ad, starring Land Tawney, the group's gap-toothed and camouflage-sporting president, who also served on the Sportsmen's Advisory Panel for Tester. At the time, the super PAC side of the group was basically dormant.
Many liberal groups active in Montana, including Montana Hunters and Anglers, were connected through Hilltop Public Solutions, a Beltway consulting firm.
Barrett Kaiser, a former aide to Montana's other Democratic senator, Max Baucus, is a partner at Hilltop and runs its office in Billings. The Hilltop website notes that Kaiser helped with Tester's upset Senate win in 2006. Kaiser is also a good friend of Messina, the manager of Obama's 2012 campaign, who also once worked for Baucus.
Kaiser was on the board of the Montana Hunters and Anglers dark money group. Another Hilltop employee in Billings served as the treasurer for the Montana Hunters and Anglers super PAC.
Hilltop partners in Washington also helped run two other dark money groups that spent money on the Montana race: the Citizens for Strength and Security Fund and thePartnership to Protect Medicare.
The League of Conservation Voters and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana paid management fees to Hilltop.
From the Montana Hunters and Anglers Leadership Fund (super PAC):

From Montana Hunters and Anglers Action (501(c)(4)):

Friday, December 28, 2012

More on Polarization and the House

So why is compromise so hard in the House? Some commentators, especially liberals, attribute it to what they say is the irrationality of Republican members of Congress.
But the answer could be this instead: individual members of Congress are responding fairly rationally to their incentives. Most members of the House now come from hyperpartisan districts where they face essentially no threat of losing their seat to the other party. Instead, primary challenges, especially for Republicans, may be the more serious risk.
He divides House districts into several categories:

  •  Landslide districts are those in which the presidential vote was at least 20 points more Democratic or Republican than in the country as a whole. 
  • Strong  districts are 10 to 20 percentage points more Democratic or Republican.
  • Lean  districts are 5 to 10 percentage points more Democratic or Republican.
  • Swing districts are within five percentage points of the national popular vote margin.

As an earlier post explained, deliberate gerrymanders are only part of the reason.  Residential concentration -- or unintentional gerrymandering -- is even more important.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

State Legislative Switches

On election night, it appeared that Democrats had scored a net gain of four state legislative chambers. Because of post-election switches, however, that number is now down to two.  Coalitions of Republicans and maverick Democrats will now control the state senates in New York and Washington State.

Earlier this month, Stateline reported:
Voters in Washington State last month elected a state Senate with 26 Democrats and 23 Republicans. But starting next month, those Republicans will serve in the chamber’s majority after a coup Monday (December 10) that will bring a bipartisan coalition to power. 
Two centrist Democratic senators, Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon, announced they had banded together with the Republicans to form the new “Majority Coalition Caucus.” The two Democrats will serve in the chamber’s top positions. Tom, a former Republican who became a Democrat in 2006, will lead the Senate as majority leader. Sheldon will serve as president pro tempore. 
Under the plan, Republicans and Democrats will split committee chairmanships, but, as Publicola reported, Republicans will lead many of the committees that are considered most important, including K-12 Education and the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee. 
The coalition presented the arrangement as a way for Republicans and Democrats to join together to solve the state’s problems. “We are Washington State, not Washington, D.C.,” the group wrote in a statement laying out its principles. “We commit ourselves to establishing a style of lawmaking that promotes policy over politics, an approach seen all too rarely in politics today.”
The New York Times adds today:
Here in the capital, legislative staff members and senators alike were pondering where they stood, and where they might sit — office space in the new power-sharing arrangement being one of the unknowns of the holiday season. What seemed increasingly clear, though, is that in the coalition agreement, Mr. Sheldon and Mr. Tom had achieved a kind of coup within a coup, silencing Republican social conservatives on one hand and distancing Seattle Democrats on the other, all in one karate chop.
In New York, The Legislative Gazette reported:
Control of the state Senate during the upcoming session will be shared between Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and Sen. Jeff Klein, the de facto leader of a five-member independent conference, all but eliminating the power of the Senate Democrats for the time being. 
The two conference leaders together will administer "joint and equal authority" over the daily Senate agenda, the state budget process, board appointments, committee assignments and leadership posts. The title of "Temporary President" will alternate between Skelos and Klein every two weeks.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

California Unions and Social Media

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on how the California Labor Federation used technology in 2012 and is building a base for digital activism in 2013.
Leaders of the California unions that spent $75 million to defeat Proposition 32's union-busting campaign in November discovered something during the bruising battle: 40 percent of likely voters were not watching any Prop. 32-related TV commercials, even though the spots droned on nonstop throughout the fall.


Fusing a sophisticated data-mining operation with messages sent through social media platforms such as Facebook, the unions changed how they were singling out voters younger than 40 who don't watch TV. Within weeks, they saw support for their position among younger voters climb from 40 percent to 60 percent.

The organization has invested $9 million over the past three years in a program called Million More Voters to broaden its base beyond union members. Union leaders searched for nonunion voters who shared their beliefs on economic or cultural matters. The program has put them in touch with nearly 4 million Californians.

"We have a bad habit in campaigns," said Larry Grisolano, one of the Obama campaign's top advisers who consulted with the labor federation two years ago on how to create the new approach to profiling voters. "After the election, you turn out the lights, you fold up the tents and the residual value of what you did is not even collected because the mission is done - the election is over."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Fading Hope

Four years after the 2008 election, fear is replacing hope in the public mind. The Washington Post report:
Public expectations about the year ahead are bleaker than they’ve been in more than a decade, with Republicans leading the way in adopting gloomier outlooks, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
A bare 53 percent majority of all Americans are “hopeful” about their lives in 2013; some 44 percent say they are instead more “fearful.” The assessment about what’s in store for the world is even more grim: a record low 40 percent report being hopeful about the next year, with 56 percent saying they are more fearful. 
Those personally hopeful numbers are down sharply from four years ago when 63 percent said as much in the wake of President Obama’s historic first election. The trend is even more striking compared to expectations for 2007, before the national economic bubble burst. In December 2006, nearly three-quarters were more hopeful than fearful about the coming year.

Massachusetts Senate Race

The Boston Globe reports:
The decision by Edward M. Kennedy Jr. on Monday to pass on a run for US Senate in Massachusetts in 2013 eliminates one of the few Democrats with the star power to ward off serious challengers within his own party, increasing the odds of a tough Democratic primary fight that could damage the eventual nominee. 
Three Democratic congressmen, Edward Markey of Malden, Michael Capuano of Somerville, and Stephen Lynch of South Boston, have signaled interest in running for the Senate in a special election, for a seat expected to open with the nomination of Senator John Kerry to lead the State Department. None of the congressmen has declared a run. 
“I think people were waiting to see what Teddy would do,” said Philip W. Johnston, a former chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
Polls suggest that Republican Scott Brown, who lost to Elizabeth Warren in November, would be in a strong position to win the seat. Massachusetts was one of the few states in which President Obama had coattails in a Senate election. With lower turnout and without the president on the ballot, a special election might work to Brown's advantage.

Why are several House Democrats considering a run? The results of the 2012 House elections suggest that the GOP may be in the majority for years to come. These lawmakers may be reckoning that it is much better to belong to the Senate majority than the House minority. That's true even for Markey, who is now among the most senior House Democrats.

Monday, December 24, 2012

God's Money

The Center for Responsive Politics reports that religious money favored Democrats in 2012:
Center for Responsive Politics data shows that in 2012, clergy and religious organizations gave 62 percent of their campaign contributions to Democrats, the most of any year since 1990 when OpenSecrets started tracking the data and nearly 10 percent above the average of the past two decades 
Contributions came exclusively from individuals, who favored Barack Obamawith $700,000 and gave his GOP opponent, Mitt Romney, just $230,000.

In 2008, contributions were also skewed toward Democrats, with individuals from that group contributing $1 million to Democrat Barack Obama; $200,000 to Hillary Clinton, also a Democrat; $180,000 to Republican Mike Huckabee; and $177,000 to that year's GOP nominee, John McCain. 
This trend could be a problem for Republicans, because the numbers might be expected to go the other way. A Gallup poll released in December found that most Americans self-identify as religious. A plurality of them, 40 percent, identified as very religious and 29 percent as moderately religious. Gallup also found a decline in the percentage of Americans who identify with a specific religious sect. 
The industry’s lobbying in the first three quarters of 2012 appears to be down at $1.7 million. In 2011, the industry spent $3 million lobbying.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Romney's Alamo

At The Boston Globe, Michael Kranish has a lengthy analysis of the Romney defeat.
Tagg Romney could not figure it out. Why had Obama spent so heavily during the primaries when he had no primary opponent? Only later did Tagg realize this was a key to Obama’s victory.
“We were looking at all the money they were spending in the primary and we were thinking ‘what are they spending all their money on? They’re wasting a lot of money.’ They weren’t. They were paying staffers in Florida” and elsewhere.
If Romney’s Manhattan Project had been debate preparation, then Obama’s was the ground game.
Building on its 2008 field organ­ization, Obama’s campaign had far more people on the ground, for longer periods, and backed by better data. In Florida, for example, the ­Romney campaign said it had fewer than 200 staff members on the ground, a huge commitment of its total of 500 nationwide. But the Obama campaign had 770 staff in Florida out of 3,000 or so nationwide.
“They had more staff in Florida than we had in the country, and for longer,” said Romney adviser Ron Kaufman.
Indeed, in swing state after swing state, the Obama field team was much bigger than the Romney troops. Obama had 123 offices in Ohio, compared with Romney’s 40. Obama had 59 offices in Colorado, compared with Romney’s 15, accord­ing to statistics compiled by the Obama campaign.
Stevens said he expressed alarm about the Democrat’s early advantage in money and staff. He said Obama’s decision to reject public financing for the fall campaign (a move Romney followed) worked to Obama’s advantage ­because Obama used primary funds to prepare for the general election, and it meant there was no ceiling on how much could be spent.
“It is like sitting in the ­Alamo,” Stevens said in the postelection interview, comparing the siege by Mexican troops in 1836 to competing against the superior forces of the Obama campaign.
“Yes, it is alarming. There are a lot of Santa Anna’s soldiers out there.”

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Polarization in the House

The congressional elections of 2012 have made it even harder to find common ground in the House.  Nate Silver explains:
Say that Mr. Boehner cannot count on the support of 34 of his Republicans when it comes to passing major fiscal policy legislation. That means he would need to identify 18 Democrats who would vote along with the Republicans who remained with him.
Here’s the problem: it might be hard to round up those 18 Democrats.
The reason is that most of the Democrats who remain in the House are quite liberal.
In fact, the once-powerful Blue Dog Caucus, a coalition of moderate Democrats, will have only 14 members in the new Congress. The centrist Democrats who once filled its ranks fared very poorly in the 2010 midterm elections, while others retired or were harmed by redistricting or by primary battles. Although Republicans have moved more to the right than Democrats have moved to the left in recent years, according to measures like those developed by Mr. Poole, the attrition in the Democratic Party has nevertheless contributed to moving the two parties even further apart.
What that means is that if Mr. Boehner has a significant number of Republican defections, as he did on Thursday night, he will need to win the support of at least some liberal Democrats. And a bill that wins the support of some liberal Democrats will be an even harder sell to Mr. Boehner’s Republicans. For each vote that he picks up from the left, he could risk losing another from his right flank.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Boehner's Bad Night

With Mitt Romney's defeat and the GOP's failure to win the Senate, John Boehner is the most powerful Republican in Washington. In the past 24 hours, however, he learned anew what Edmund Burke wrote:
"In all bodies, those who will lead, must also, in a considerable degree, follow."

Politico reports:
What happened to the 63-year-old in just the last week is striking. On Saturday night, word leaked out that he had given into the White House’s demand that he allow tax rates on the rich to snap to 39.6 percent. Immediately, conservatives were grumbling but still gave Boehner room to maneuver.
On Monday night, Boehner called Obama to inform him he would devise a plan and pass it out of the House — Plan B, he called it — because negotiations with the White House weren’t moving quickly enough.
Boehner’s in-house power structure quickly sprung into action.
His leadership team spent the past few days gathering support for the legislation — as of late Wednesday, there were clear signs that Boehner’s bill did not have sufficient support. On Wednesday night and all day Thursday, Boehner worked the House floor, personally making the case for the bill to wavering members. By late Thursday, he was sitting on the floor with Reps. Patrick Tiberi (Ohio), Tom Latham (Iowa) and Mike Simpson (Idaho) — close allies and friends, who support the speaker unfailingly.
Top Republicans remained hopeful, until late Thursday when GOP lawmakers voiced a public protest. Twenty-one Republicans voted against a spending bill to send a signal to leadership that the tax-rate bill didn’t meet their muster. It was the rank and file screaming that Plan B would not pass.
One hour and 15 minutes later, Boehner was leading Republicans into a Capitol basement meeting room to wave the white flag.
Some of the same members kicked off committees and denied leadership spots — Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas and Rep. Tom Price of Georgia — led the resistance.
Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) put it plainly: “Nobody’s elected king in our conference.”

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Consequential Candidates

At National Journal, Reid Wilson points out that candidates and their campaigns make a difference. Physicians provide two different examples:
Richard Carmona: Sometimes a team plays itself into a game. Other times a team plays itself right out of contention. Richard Carmona, the Democratic Senate candidate in Arizona, did both.
The race to replace retiring Sen. Jon Kyl looked like a cakewalk for Rep. Jeff Flake. But Carmona's inspiring life story--high school dropout, Army Special Forces, self-made doctor, and SWAT leader, U.S. surgeon general--put Republican-leaning Arizona into play. Carmona's television advertisements featured news footage of the candidate dangling from a helicopter as he was saving a gunshot victim.
The race tightened, to the extent that some Democratic internal surveys showed Carmona leading. Virtually the only arrow Republicans had in their quiver was a report from a former supervisor that he had banged on her door in the middle of the night once, and that he had a problem dealing with female superiors. The attack didn't gain much traction--until Carmona made an ill-advised crack comparing a male debate moderator to CNN's Candy Crowley.
Carmona's biography was his campaign's best asset. He had to run the perfect campaign to win in a red-hued state; the candidate's own gaffe may have cost him the race late. Flake won by 4 points.
Raul Ruiz: California went through the last decade with such precisely gerrymandered districts that only one House member lost his seat. That meant both national parties hardly paid attention to the state. So when a new, independent redistricting board threw as many as a dozen races into contention, neither side really knew what to expect.
Democrats believed the growing Hispanic population in the Inland Empire was their key to unlocking an area that had stayed stubbornly Republican. Ruiz, the son of migrant farmworkers who put himself through Harvard Medical School, was the Democrat best able to take advantage of that shifting population. While Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack coasted toward an expected reelection, GOP strategists became increasingly worried about her chances.
Those fears were well-founded. On Nov. 6, Ruiz became the first Democrat to win the Palm Springs-based district. His campaign will serve as a model to Democrats trying to oust Republicans like Reps. Jeff Denham and Gary Miller, and Rep.-elect David Valadao.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New GOP Pollster

Republicans suffered from bad polling and technology in 2012Politico reports on Harper Polling, a new GOP survey firm.
The outfit, Harper Polling, launches this week with the goal of putting the party on parity with Democrats in the field of IVR polling — a term that stands for interactive voice response polling, commonly known as “robo-polling.”

For several cycles now, Democrats have benefited from a high-volume, relatively inexpensive flow of survey data from the company Public Policy Polling, which takes hundreds of polls in any given cycle checking up on individual races and national issue debates. Some of those surveys are released to the public, while others are conducted for private purposes by Democratic campaigns and interest groups.

On the Republican side, candidates and party committees have largely eschewed automated data collection in lieu of more expensive polling taken by live telephone interviews. In 2012, those costlier polls proved inaccurate in many cases, based on flawed assumptions that left the GOP stunned by the scale of its setbacks on Election Day.
Harper Polling founder Brock McCleary, the outgoing polling director and deputy executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the aim of his project is to give the GOP access to flexible, cost-effective polling data that matches what Democrats are producing.
In a way, the project is an extension of a 2011 initiative at the NRCC to conduct in-house IVR polling. That effort was successful enough, according to McCleary, that he decided it would be worth doing on a larger scale.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

District System for Electoral College

From Dave Wasserman:  "In my estimation, if every state awarded Electoral votes by Congressional district (a la ME & NE), Romney would have won, 276-262."

Reid Wilson reports at National Journal that Republicans in key states want to switch to the district system.

Senior Republicans say they will try to leverage their party's majorities in Democratic-leaning states in an effort to end the winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes. Instead, bills that will be introduced in several Democratic states would award electoral votes on a proportional basis.
Already, two states -- Maine and Nebraska -- award an electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district. The candidate who wins the most votes statewide takes the final two at-large electoral votes. Only once, when President Obama won a congressional district based in Omaha in 2008, has either of those states actually split their vote.
But if more reliably blue states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were to award their electoral votes proportionally, Republicans would be able to eat into what has become a deep Democratic advantage.
All three states have given the Democratic nominee their electoral votes in each of the last six presidential elections. Now, senior Republicans in Washington are overseeing legislation in all three states to end the winner-take-all system.
Obama won all three states in 2008, handing him 46 electoral votes because of the winner-take-all system. Had electoral votes been awarded by district, Republican nominee Mitt Romney would have cut into that lead. Final election results show that Romney won nine of Michigan's 14 districts, five of eight in Wisconsin, and at least 12 of 18 in Pennsylvania.
Allocate the two statewide votes in each state to Obama and that means Romney would have emerged from those three Democratic states with 26 electoral votes, compared with just 19 for Obama (and one district where votes are still being counted).
Republicans are able to contemplate such a bold plan because of their electoral success in 2010, when the party won control of state legislative chambers and the governorships in all three states, giving them total control over the levers of state government.
"If you did the calculation, you'd see a massive shift of electoral votes in states that are blue and fully [in] red control," said one senior Republican taking an active role in pushing the proposal. "There's no kind of autopsy and outreach that can grab us those electoral votes that quickly."
And if Republicans go ahead with their plan, Democrats don't have the option of pushing back. After the 2010 wave, Democrats control all levers of government in only one state -- West Virginia -- that Romney won this year. Some consistently blue presidential states have Republican legislatures; the reverse is not true.

Big Data

At Technology Review, Sasha Issenberg has a three-part series on how the Obama campaign used data to target individual voters

In the 2008 presidential election, Obama’s targeters had assigned every voter in the country a pair of scores based on the probability that the individual would perform two distinct actions that mattered to the campaign: casting a ballot and supporting Obama. These scores were derived from an unprecedented volume of ongoing survey work. For each battleground state every week, the campaign’s call centers conducted 5,000 to 10,000 so-called short-form interviews that quickly gauged a voter’s preferences, and 1,000 interviews in a long-form version that was more like a traditional poll. To derive individual-level predictions, algorithms trawled for patterns between these opinions and the data points the campaign had assembled for every voter—as many as one thousand variables each, drawn from voter registration records, consumer data warehouses, and past campaign contacts.
This innovation was most valued in the field. There, an almost perfect cycle of microtargeting models directed volunteers to scripted conversations with specific voters at the door or over the phone. Each of those interactions produced data that streamed back into Obama’s servers to refine the models pointing volunteers toward the next door worth a knock. The efficiency and scale of that process put the Democrats well ahead when it came to profiling voters. John McCain’s campaign had, in most states, run its statistical model just once, assigning each voter to one of its microtargeting segments in the summer. McCain’s advisors were unable to recalculate the probability that those voters would support their candidate as the dynamics of the race changed. Obama’s scores, on the other hand, adjusted weekly, responding to new events like Sarah Palin’s vice-presidential nomination or the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
Obama’s campaign began the election year confident it knew the name of every one of the 69,456,897 Americans whose votes had put him in the White House. They may have cast those votes by secret ballot, but Obama’s analysts could look at the Democrats’ vote totals in each precinct and identify the people most likely to have backed him. Pundits talked in the abstract about reassembling Obama’s 2008 coalition. But within the campaign, the goal was literal. They would reassemble the coalition, one by one, through personal contacts.
Part Two:
 Romney’s political department began holding regular meetings to look at where in the country the Obama campaign was focusing resources like ad dollars and the president’s time. The goal was to try to divine the calculations behind those decisions. It was, in essence, the way Microsoft’s Bing approached Google: trying to reverse-engineer the market leader’s code by studying the visible output. “We watch where the president goes,” Dan ­Centinello, the Romney deputy political director who oversaw the meetings, said over the summer.
Obama’s media-buying strategy proved particularly hard to decipher. In early September, as part of his standard review, Lundry noticed that the week after the Democratic convention, Obama had aired 68 ads in Dothan, Alabama, a town near the Florida border. Dothan was one of the country’s smallest media markets, and Alabama one of the safest Republican states. Even though the area was known to savvy ad buyers as one of the places where a media market crosses state lines, Dothan TV stations reached only about 9,000 Florida voters, and around 7,000 of them had voted for John McCain in 2008. “This is a hard-core Republican media market,” Lundry says. “It’s incredibly tiny. But they were advertising there.”
Romney’s advisors might have formed a theory about the broader media environment, but whatever was sending Obama hunting for a small pocket of votes was beyond their measurement. “We could tell,” says McGoldrick, “that there was something in the algorithms that was telling them what to run.”
Part Three:
The scope of the analytic research enabled it to pick up movements too small for traditional polls to perceive. As Simas reviewed Wagner’s analytic tables in mid-October, he was alarmed to see that what had been a Romney lead of one to two points in Green Bay, Wisconsin, had grown into an advantage of between six and nine. Green Bay was the only media market in the state to experience such a shift, and there was no obvious explanation. But it was hard to discount. Whereas a standard 800-person statewide poll might have reached 100 respondents in the Green Bay area, analytics was placing 5,000 calls in Wisconsin in each five-day cycle—and benefiting from tens of thousands of other field contacts—to produce microtargeting scores. Analytics was talking to as many people in the Green Bay media market as traditional pollsters were talking to across Wisconsin every week. “We could have the confidence level to say, ‘This isn’t noise,’” says Simas. So the campaign’s media buyers aired an ad attacking Romney on outsourcing and beseeched Messina to send former president Bill Clinton and Obama himself to rallies there. (In the end, Romney took the county 50.3 to 48.5 percent.)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Early Obama Attack, No Early Romney Defense

At Politico, Jonathan Martin and Glenn Thrush preview their latest campaign e-book.  During the summer, the Obama campaign made an early attack to define Romney.  As mentioned earlier, Romney did not push back.
• At a late May meeting in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, Obama signed off on a risky plan to drop a significant portion of their cash, more than $100 million, on a summer assault on Romney. This meant raiding the campaign’s fall budget, potentially robbing it of cash down the homestretch. That entailed slashing broadcast ad spending in the final weeks to a fraction of what Romney’s was expected to be — a mere 1,500 “points,” in advertising parlance, when the challenger was expected to hammer home as much as 5,500 points over the same period.
“It was an untested proposition, if you could go naked at the end of a campaign and still win,” Plouffe told the authors of this book. “We thought it would work because voters would be so saturated in October, and they would have just lived through the debates. … Better to define Romney early and force him to playcatch-up. … It was a gut-wrenching decision, really. You were staring into the abyss.”
Obama said “OK. Go for it” — but he never stopped fretting about the campaign’s cash situation and told aides he never wanted to go into debt as Hillary Clinton had done in 2008.
• Romney had a way to combat the summer onslaught but never seriously considered it: tapping his own multi-million dollar fortune. But his advisers, recalling the bad publicity the candidate got for steering tens of millions of his own dollars into his 2008 campaign, were uneasy about being perceived as trying the buy the White House. Campaign manager Rhoades never even broached the topic of self-funding with Romney, according to a senior campaign official.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Crossroads GPS Application to the IRS

Pro Publica reports:
In a confidential 2010 filing, Crossroads GPS — the dark money group that spent more than $70 million from anonymous donors on the 2012 election — told the Internal Revenue Service that its efforts would focus on public education, research and shaping legislation and policy.
The group's application for recognition as a social welfare nonprofit acknowledged that it would spend money to influence elections, but said "any such activity will be limited in amount, and will not constitute the organization's primary purpose."
Politico picks up the story:
In its filing, Crossroads GPS said it would spend 20 percent on research; 50 percent on “public education” for issues including the national debt, health care, immigration and energy – including paid advertising and policy studies; and 30 percent “to influence legislation and policymaking,” including public communications and building grassroots efforts through “paid advertising, mailings, e-mails and web-based advocacy tools.”
Earlier that year, the group told donors their contributions would be used to research congressional Democrats’ “expense account” and to frame the BP oil spill as “Obama’s Katrina.”
According to a concept paper distributed to wealthy Republicans donors, Crossroads GPS said it planned to build a “micro-team(s) of researchers and polling professionals” and “list development professionals and direct contact (mail/phones) consultants” to develop and disseminate “hard-hitting issue advocacy” attack Democrats by “exposing ObamaCare” as well as “the great ‘stimulus’ rip-off” and “the new federal bureaucrat elite – paid for by struggling private sector families.”
Crossroads GPS has, in fact, been doing post-election issue advertising and did so in 2011.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

"Unintentional Gerrymandering"

The New York Times reports:
The latest round of redistricting is not the only reason Republicans lost the popular vote but won a majority of House seats, several political scientists and analysts said. Incumbency is a powerful weapon, they noted, and Republicans went into the election with a big majority in the House. A new election process in California pitted some Democrats against one another in the general election.
And a number of political scientists pointed to what Jowei Chen, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan, and Jonathan Rodden, a professor of political science at Stanford University, call “unintentional gerrymandering” in a forthcoming paper — the natural geographic patterns that lead many Democrats to choose to live in dense, urban areas with very high concentrations of Democrats, effectively packing themselves into fewer districts.
“Now, more than ever in history, Democrats are clustered in a small number of these urban districts,” Professor Chen said in an interview.
But it is undeniable that redistricting played a role as well. The new lines helped Republicans maintain their control of the House, largely because they were able to add more Republican voters to districts where Republicans won close races in 2010.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fred Davis and a Los Angeles Super PAC

Over the next few months, the biggest political race will be for mayor of Los Angeles.  And a super PAC is entering the fray.  The Los Angeles Times reported a few weeks ago:
Looking to dramatically tip the scales in the race for Los Angeles' next mayor, a nationally prominent Republican media strategist has formed a "super PAC" that aims to spend millions of dollars to elect dark-horse mayoral candidate Kevin James.
Fred Davis, a GOP advertising man who has worked on campaigns for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina and former President George W. Bush, said the Better Way LA committee has raised nearly $500,000 on behalf of James and plans to collect at least $3.5 million more.
 The PAC is the first outside committee to form on behalf of a mayoral candidate in the March 5 election. Davis, who lives in Hollywood, said a victory for James, a former prosecutor who is both gay and Republican, could ignite a "rebirth" of the GOP in California, where Democrats hold two-thirds of the seats in the Legislature, and Republican voter registration has fallen below 30%.
Davis made the "Demon Sheep" ad for Fiorina, as well as many other memorable political spots.

 "Demon Sheep" (2010).  Ironic note:  the web ad attacks the 2005 California budget as "disastrous" -- even though Davis's 2006 ads praised Schwarzenegger's economic record.


 "I'm Not a Witch" (2010)


 "Celebrity" (2008)


Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Red and the Blue

At the Wall Street Journal, Gerald Seib explains how the election results foster polarization on Capitol Hill:
Based on nearly complete results, of the 234 Republicans elected to the House, just 15 come from districts that the Democratic president carried, according to a running tally compiled by David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report. Of 201 Democrats elected, just nine come from districts Republican Mitt Romney carried.
The winner of the presidential vote is still to be determined in seven congressional districts, so the numbers will shift slightly when final votes are tallied. Suffice it to say, though, that only about 6% of House members will come from districts carried by the other party's presidential candidate, a sign of just how few actual swing districts remain.
This is the result of the fine art of modern congressional redistricting: Red districts are safely red, blue districts safely blue. There is a reason House members don't see much need to compromise with the other party.

 Not only are House members coming from reliably partisan districts, many are winning in landslides. In this fall's election, 125 House members—42 Republicans and 83 Democrats—won their districts with 70% or more of the vote.
When more than a quarter of House members win so overwhelmingly, in districts that are so safe for them, they are inclined to think they are the ones coming to Washington with a mandate to do things their way, regardless of the national election's rhetoric or outcome.
The situation is similar in the Senate. There will be 45 Republican senators in the new Congress. Only 10 of them come from states President Obama won. There will be 55 Democrats and independents who caucus with Democrats. Just 11 of them come from states Mr. Romney won.
So, roughly four of five senators come from states where the outcome of the presidential race might be interpreted as a reason for them to stay planted in a partisan corner.
Voting in that presidential race, meanwhile, was starkly partisan. President Obama won the votes of just 6% of Republicans, exit polls indicate. Mr. Romney won just 7% of Democrats.
Also note polarization in the state capitols. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Epic Stasis

McClatchy provides another survey showing that this election was not about hope and change.

  A gloomy view of Washington

Resurgent Republic on the Hispanic Vote

Resurgent Republic and the Hispanic Leadership Network surveyed Hispanics who voted in the 2012 Presidential election in Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.  Some findings:

  • Majorities of Hispanic voters say that, regardless of how they typically vote, the Republican Party does not respect the values and concerns of the Hispanic community. Combined with the overwhelming view that the Democratic Party, rather than the Republican Party, better understands the needs and concerns of Hispanic voters, the results of this question should be sobering for Republican candidates at every level. Hispanic voters say the Republican Party does not respect the values and concerns of the Hispanic community by 51 to 44 percent in Florida, 54 to 40 percent in New Mexico, 59 to 35 percent in Nevada, and 63 to 30 percent in Colorado.
  • But Republican statewide elected officials are far more popular than the Republican Party in general, and Mitt Romney specifically. In Florida, Senator Marco Rubio has a 49 to 37 percent favorable-unfavorable rating, compared to Romney’s 44 to 51 percent. In New Mexico, Governor Susana Martinez has a 53 to 35 percent favorable-unfavorable rating, compared to Romney’s 34 to 58 percent. And in Nevada, Governor Brian Sandoval has a 47 to 27 percent favorable-unfavorable rating, compared to Romney’s 32 to 62 percent. As seen with the Republican Party overall, Mitt Romney’s worst favorable-unfavorable rating is in Colorado, at 26 to 69 percent (including 51 percent very unfavorable).
  • Disturbingly, majorities of voters in each state say that “Is anti-immigrant” better describes the Republican Party, while the Democratic Party has big leads on “Understands the needs and concerns of Hispanic voters,” and “Makes an effort to win Hispanic voters.” But one area of potential concern for Democrats is seen on “Views the Hispanic community as a group, rather than as individuals,” where they lead Republicans in every state by double-digit margins. This suggests a sense among some Hispanic voters that the Democratic Party takes them and their vote for granted, thus offering Republicans an opportunity to make inroads among these voters with a results-oriented agenda that does not pander.
  • Only in Florida was the Romney campaign close to par with the Obama campaign in its Hispanic voter contact effort. Given that voters say that the Democratic Party, rather than the Republican Party, makes an effort to win Hispanic voters, it is not surprising to see a decided Democratic outreach advantage in the recent presidential campaign.

Rove Did Not Make Money from the Crossroads Groups

Some commentators have said that Karl Rove made money from American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS.  At the Washington Post, Glenn Kessler checked and found that the assertions are false.  Rove made no money from the groups, and in fact paid his own expenses for Crossroads-related travel.
None of Crossroads’s public filings — the numerous forms filed with the Federal Election Commission for American Crossroads or the 990 forms filed by Crossroads GPS in 2010 and 2011 with the Internal Revenue Service — show any evidence of Rove receiving any disbursements.

We consulted with campaign finance experts to see if there was anything we were missing — some way that Rove could disguise payments, such as through vendors.

Several experts noted that Rove could be a part-owner of one of the media or fundraising companies that were paid by Crossroads — what Tyler had called “kickbacks.” For instance, one company loosely linked to Rove’s old Texas firm received money from Crossroads, but we can find no financial connection between Rove and that firm today.

After our queries, we received a statement from American Crossroads that exceeded any previous comments on this matter.

“Mr. Rove receives no financial benefit either directly or indirectly from American Crossroads, Crossroads GPS or any of its vendors or subvendors,” said spokesman Jonathan Collegio. “He also pays his travel expenses out of his own pocket.”

Campaign finance experts agreed the sweeping statement covered all of the bases, leaving little wiggle room, and was fairly compelling without actually examining Rove’s personal financial records.

Given that Rove’s selling point for American Crossroads is precisely that it does not waste money on consultant commissions, he is certainly putting his credibility on the line if this statement ever turned out to be misleading.

Ads: More Lead on the Target

The retrospectives and recriminations continue.  At The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger writes:
Senior Republican campaign operatives who gathered over beer last week in Alexandria for a post-election briefing were taken aback by what they were told. A nonpartisan research firm presented data showing that President Obama had far outperformed Mitt Romney in managing the largest single expenditure of the campaign: television advertising.
Romney’s spending decisions on advertising look like “campaign malpractice,” said one person who had reviewed the newly circulated data.
Obama and his allies spent less on advertising than Romney and his allies but got far more — in the number of ads broadcast, in visibility in key markets and in targeting critical demographic groups, such as the working class and younger voters in swing states. As the presidential race entered its final, furious phase, for example, millions of college football fans tuning in to televised games saw repeated ads for Obama but relatively few from the Romney campaign.
All told, from June through Election Day, the Obama campaign and its allies aired about 50,000 more ads than Romney and his allies, according to the research firm’s data.
“The Obama guys put more lead on the target and were buying their bullets cheaper,” said an attendee at the briefing, Will Feltus, a senior vice president at National Media, the firm that represented Romney in 2008 and President George W. Bush in his 2004 reelection effort.
See earlier posts on the rate disadvantage that Romney and super PACs faced in buying ads.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

GOP & Conservative After-Action Reviews

Robert Costa reports at National Review:
National Review Online has learned that the Koch brothers will postpone their semi-annual meeting, which was originally scheduled to be held next month. It will now be held in April. In an e-mail to friends, Charles Koch says he wants to reflect on the results, and on election data, before he huddles with fellow business leaders.
Here’s what Koch wrote to his inner circle:
Despite November’s disappointing election results, I am convinced that America’s long-term decline is far from a foregone conclusion. Our goal of advancing a free and prosperous America is even more difficult than we envisioned, but it is essential that we continue, rather than abandon, this struggle.
We are working hard to understand the election results, and based on that analysis, to re-examine our vision and the strategies and capabilities required for success. Although some of the needed changes are already evident, it will be several months before the state data necessary to complete this analysis is available.
The Kochs were a major force during the campaign. They donated millions to conservative causes, and Americans for Prosperity, which they founded, was active in many races. David Koch was also a Romney delegate at the GOP convention.
Yesterday, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin reported at Politico:
The Republican National Committee is rolling out a plan to review what worked and what didn't for the party in the 2012 cycle, appointing five people at the top of a committee that will make recommendations on things like demographics, messaging and fundraising.
The Growth and Opportunity Project is going to be chaired by RNC committee member Henry Barbour, longtime Jeb Bush adviser and political operative Sally Bradshaw, former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, Puerto Rico RNC committee member Zori Fonalledas, and South Carolina RNC member Glenn McCall. Priebus, who is running for a second term, is holding a call with committee members to roll out the plan this afternoon.
The plan is to focus on: campaign mechanics, fundraising, demographics, messaging, outside groups, campaign finance, the national primary process and, last but not least, what the successful Democratic efforts revealed about the way forward, and recommend plans for the way forward, sources familiar with the plan said.
Priebus had told a large group of donors in New York last week that the review would be conducted outside the building and would not be led by RNC staff. But sources familiar with the project said that there are 2 RNC senior staffers, Ben Kay and Sara Armstrong, assigned to the project as support staff, saying the goal between them and the RNC members involved was to have, as one source said, "both inside and outside influence" to bring in a several different points of view
The review may take place "outside the building" but the reviewers are all inside the GOP establishment.  Will they really provide a fresh, disinterested analysis?  Andrew Kaczynski notes:  "But during the election, two of its members — former Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer and Republican committeeman Henry Barbour — pushed the narrative that the polls were skewed and Mitt Romney would ultimately prevail."

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hillary Clinton in 2016?

The late Lee Atwater used to talk about "the invisible circle," the very small number of political figures that the public knows and can accept as potential presidents. That is, if voters woke up and found that one of these people was in the White House, they could go back to sleep knowing that he or she could do the job. In their day, Nelson Rockefeller and Hubert Humphrey were in the invisible circle.

Among Democrats not named Obama, who's there today? Hillary Clinton, full stop. She has universal name recognition, and with her experience as a senator and secretary of state, she has all the requisite qualifications. Nobody else comes close. Joe Biden? Quit laughing. Andrew Cuomo? Brian Schweitzer? Martin O'Malley? Maybe in the future, but they're all unknown outside their home states.

 But as the Humphrey and Rockefeller examples suggest, residence in the invisible circle does not guarantee success. They had liabilities, and so does Secretary Clinton. First, she will be 69 at the time of the 2016 election, which would make her the second-oldest person ever to take the oath for the first time.  (Reagan was a few months older when he became president in 1981.)  Unfair as the perception may be, some people will think she's too old. Second, if voters are in the mood for a change, her credentials will work against her. After her many years at the center of Washington, the icon for "change" would be a picture of her with a red slash through it. Third, all the Clinton-era litter would blow back onto her front lawn. Remember her mysterious success at commoditytrading? Don't worry: oppo guys will remember it for you.

Most of all, she's been at the heart of foreign policy for the past four years. If 2016 is a time of international peace and prosperity, then she'll be able to claim some credit. But current events in the MiddleEast suggest a darker future. If things don't look so good on the world stage, she'll have to take a lot of the blame.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cook on 2014

At National Journal, Charles Cook sees GOP opportunities in 2014:

Obviously, past results are not a guarantee of future performance: Democrats are not going into the 2014 House midterms in an overexposed position, because they took such a beating in 2010, losing 63 seats and regaining only eight seats this year. It’s hard to see how Democrats could lose the 48 seats that the “in” party lost in 1958, 1966, and 1974. Also, with the way the current lines are drawn to form so many one-party districts, it would take a heckuva wave election to move a lot of seats in either direction. The House appears to have reached a kind of a partisan equilibrium; the GOP has a good chance of holding onto control for the rest of the decade, barring self-destruction resulting in a tidal wave.
But in the Senate, with only one Republican-held seat up (Susan Collins in Maine) in a state not carried by Mitt Romney by at least 8 points, the GOP seems to have little exposure. At the same time, Democrats have four seats in states that Romney carried by 15 or more points (Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Jay Rockefeller in West Virginia, and Tim Johnson in South Dakota), with two more in states that Romney won by 14 points (Max Baucus in Montana and Mark Begich in Alaska) and two others in swing states (Kay Hagan in North Carolina and Mark Warner in Virginia).
Significantly, though, as Republicans painfully learned in 2012, overexposure doesn’t necessarily mean that Democrats will lose seats. This year, Democrats had 23 seats up to only 10 for Republicans, yet Democrats managed to score a net gain of two seats, defying all odds. In 2014, Democrats are once again overexposed, with 20 seats up compared with just 13 for the GOP. At least on paper, 2014 should be an opportunity year for Senate Republicans, assuming they don’t nominate horrifically flawed, weak, or self-immolating candidates, as they did, over the strenuous objections of party leaders and strategists, in 2010 and 2012

Post-Election Conferences

Politico reports on a conference at Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas on Thursday and Friday:
“The bottom line is that the Obama campaign [had] a candidate that was very hard to lay a glove on because he was somebody that the American people, by and large, had decided that they just liked,” said Romney’s deputy campaign manager Katie Packer Gage.
“It was one of the most frustrating things in our campaign,” Gage added. “In focus group after focus group, when you would sit down with this sort of narrow slice of voters — undecided female voters who had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 — they weren’t ready to vote for Barack Obama yet, but when we would test message point after message point after message point, there was almost nothing that would stick to this guy because they just liked him personally.”
The Obama team believes that the selection of Paul Ryan cost Romney Florida, eating into his support among Cubans because of his past opposition to the embargo, galvanizing Sunshine State volunteers for Obama and raising doubts among seniors over what his budget plan might do to Medicare.
We needed to make this a state-by-state race, and we needed to take a state like Florida and turn it into a battle over each precinct,” [national field director Jeremy] Bird said.
“Traditionally you win a primary and somebody drops out because resources just stall,” said Gage. “When we came out of our short-lived win in Iowa, you would have typically seen several candidates drop out at that point, but all of these candidates had one or two big, big donors that could keep them alive a while longer. And that’s what created this long slog effect.”
Gage said Romney’s inner circle thought frequently about how to persuade mega-donors like Sheldon Adelson and Foster Friess to stop financing the conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who both forced Romney to the right.
Politico also reports on a meeting of GOP  operatives:

The Romney campaign is in the process of transferring all of its voter contact data to the RNC — a database that includes one million donor contacts and 2.2 active email addresses from theRomney list, as well as 300 pages of strategy memos and analytics information.
How to build on those contacts in the next four years and continue to grow the party’s email database is the central question facing the GOP now, said veteran GOP strategist Peter Pasi, a partner at Emotive who did digital work for Rick Santorum’s campaign, among others, and who attended Thursday’s meeting.
How can we build structures … that can last 10 years and be refined no matter who’s the chairman and who’s in the White House?” he told POLITICO earlier this week, adding that the party needs to build “a digital infrastructure that reflects kind of a movement and a belief — not just [one] campaign.”

In addition to building that database, Republicans need to figure out how to standardize their voter information to include all kinds of data like the Obama campaign did in 2012. The Obama campaign was able to micro-target voters by cross-referencing such things as television-viewing habits and information collected from Facebook and email.
“The Obama campaign found a way to integrate social media, technology, email databases, fundraising databases and consumer market data,” said GOP digital strategist Vincent Harris, who did digital work for Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry in 2012. “That does not exist on the Republican side to that degree.”

CNN "Gut Check" asked IOP director Trey Grayson for lessons from the Harvard conference:
GUT CHECK: What are the three bullet points that future campaign advisers are going to take away from the lessons learned in the 2012 presidential campaign?
GRAYSON: 1. Even with all the analytics and data that campaigns have and use, the individual contact of going door-to-door or friend-to-friend on Facebook is still the most effective way to reach voters 2. Utilizing social media to reach those voters that you otherwise could not reach. For example, Obama supporters were Facebook friends with 98% of U.S. voters. 3. Diminishing returns of television advertising late in the campaign.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Adelson and Crossroads

In a last-ditch move, Adelson and his wife, Miriam, added another group to their list of beneficiaries and recently became first-time donors to Karl Rove's conservative super PAC American Crossroads.

The Adelsons combined to give American Crossroads $20 million on Oct. 19 and another $1.5 million each on Oct. 30, according to the Federal Election Commission. That $23 million is in addition to the millions they dropped on like-minded super PACs -- such as Restore Our FutureWinning Our Future and Congressional Leadership Fund. Various news reports have said that Adelson also gave tens of millions of dollars to American Crossroads' 501(c)(4) affiliate, Crossroads GPS, which doesn't have to disclose its donors.
The FEC's post-election reporting deadline was Thursday, and American Crossroads filed a report covering receipts and expenditures between Oct. 18 and Nov. 26. Almost all the donations came in by Nov. 6, Election Day.

The super PAC finished with about $1.5 million on hand after bringing in $37.3 million from individual donors in those three weeks. Overall in 2012, American Crossroads spent about $104 million on independent expenditures, $41.7 million worth of them in the most recent reporting period. Almost all of the money went to oppose Democratic candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Friday, December 7, 2012

More on the Digital Campaign

CNN reports:

CNN and Google held a forum yesterday that focused solely on the digital aspect of the presidential campaign featuring Romney Digital Director Zac Moffatt and Obama senior strategist Andrew Bleeker. Watch a portions of the exchange here, PART 1PART 2.
We allowed Moffatt and Bleeker a chance to ask each other a direct question about the campaign, something that they might have wondered what the other one was doing in the heat of the political battle and here is an edited part of that answer we found fascinating:
Q. BLEEKER: What were your goals from a Facebook perspective? We were really actually wondering on the campaign, “Are they investing in non-battleground states? Why?”
A. MOFFAT: Some of the things you saw in our non-target states was very fundraising or list building specific … We also felt, looking at the metrics, the low-hanging fruit was still there. We also never really got to a point where we thought, we have to stop national advertising, because there are still people to be brought in. … I think that as we were looking at the vanity metrics as well, it was kind of funny the things that people fixated on again and again, and that’s why talking about this became such an easy number for us, because we were saying the same number of people were engaging online, despite the fact that at the end they were three times larger than us.
Q. MOFFAT: A lot of what we thought, when we looked at [your] advertising buys … was with more of an eye to earned media than it was sometimes to efficiency. When you did state takeovers, like in the Cleveland, Plain Dealer … the day of the early voting … I saw you guys driving more reporters to talk about it because it was a national buy. You know, you’re buying a set of geo-location, because everything we hear about team Obama it’s like geo-location. And if it doesn’t matter in the state, it doesn’t matter. And then they would go out there and thump their chest and say, you know, “You can see it.” Were you actually seeing the results across the board?
A. BLEEKER: No question, when we bought the Des Moines Register on Iowa primary day, and the [New Hampshire] Union Leader that was definitely for the media. [The media] all covered the … Iowa thing like that was really smart. And I think we got more play on that [and] frankly donations from it because everyone went to the site to click from it than I’ve ever seen from any other kind of our media buys. But I do think that stuff was sort of throw away. It was cheap. … The early vote stuff couldn’t have been more essential to our campaign. We knew we were winning the campaign pre-election day. You know, when all of the sudden we can look at the folks who voted early and that starts to line up with our turn out models, we felt pretty good. So we spent a large portion of our actual budget on what I call field support and mobilization and much of it was driving to some metric. The takeovers did do that.