Light reading over the weekend

Remember the eggheads?

The desire to boost voter turnout prompted Mr. Perry 18 months ago to open his campaign to four political scientists including two Yale University professors.

"We fondly refer to them as our eggheads," political director Dave Carney said.

The professors' work, which will evolve into a paper or a book after the election, delves into what kind of contact coupled with which message will motivate which supporters to the polls.


The professors and their studies are not involved with the campaign's message. "But they're coming up with ideas to see if they can impact it and make it more positive," Mr. Carney said.

In a five-way campaign with a lot of variables that could tip the outcome, some hard science could help the Perry camp maximize voter turnout. And the professors' chronicle of the effort could help raise the governor's profile among political experts just as another national campaign is getting under way.

What's happening in Texas is radiating through about 16 other states, said Matthew Dowd, chief campaign strategist for the 2004 Bush campaign.

Mr. Dowd was one of the pioneers who meshed consumer habits, public data, and information on lifestyles and applied it to a different kind of consumer the American voter. The technology has allowed campaigns to determine whether a person is likely to tilt Democrat or Republican and coupled with polling on issues to know what topic is likely to propel them into a voting booth.

Dowd may have done excellent work for BushCheney04 but Dowd's book -- written with Ron Fournier and Doug Sosnik -- wasn't very good. Too anecdotal, too much cheerleading about the joys and wonders of microtargeting. As the title of the book suggests, they laud Applebee's...but given the performance of Applebee's recently, it's hard to imagine that they would name their book that again. Plus, micro-targeting doesn't always work. It's no panacea, as a recent academic study suggests that sometimes it has a negative impact.

Anyway, I made a note to check for the paper that came out of The Eggheads research. I've never read their book but am somewhat familiar with their work.

Voila. Here's the paper (in PDF) they presented. Enjoy and kudos to Rick Perry and his campaign team.

Posted by Evan @ 06/01/07 04:35 PM


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