Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tidbits About the 2008 Election

The election is over, and interesting tidbits of the campaigns are being published. From Newsweek, Hackers and Spending Sprees:

"The computer systems of both the Obama and McCain campaigns were victims of a sophisticated cyberattack by an unknown "foreign entity," prompting a federal investigation . . .

Palin's shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported . . .

The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied . . .

On the Sunday night before the last debate, McCain's core group of advisers—Steve Schmidt, Rick Davis, adman Fred Davis, strategist Greg Strimple, pollster Bill McInturff and strategy director Sarah Simmons—met to decide whether to tell McCain that the race was effectively over, that he no longer had a chance to win. The consensus in the room was no, not yet, not while he still had "a pulse."

The Obama campaign's New Media experts created a computer program that would allow a "flusher"—the term for a volunteer who rounds up nonvoters on Election Day—to know exactly who had, and had not, voted in real time. They dubbed it Project Houdini, because of the way names disappear off the list instantly once people are identified as they wait in line at their local polling station . . .

McCain also was reluctant to use Obama's incendiary pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, as a campaign issue. The Republican had set firm boundaries: no Jeremiah Wright; no attacking Michelle Obama; no attacking Obama for not serving in the military. McCain balked at an ad using images of children that suggested that Obama might not protect them from terrorism. Schmidt vetoed ads suggesting thatObama was soft on crime (no Willie Hortons). And before word even got to McCain, Schmidt and Salter scuttled a "celebrity" ad of Obama dancing with talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres (the sight of a black man dancing with a lesbian was deemed too provocative).

Obama was never inclined to choose Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate, not so much because she had been his sometime bitter rival on the campaign trail, but because of her husband. Still, as Hillary's name came up in veep discussions, and Obama's advisers gave all the reasons why she should be kept off the ticket, Obama would stop and ask, "Are we sure?" He needed to be convinced one more time that the Clintons would do more harm than good. McCain, on the other hand, was relieved to face Sen. Joe Biden as the veep choice, and not Hillary Clinton, whom the McCain camp had truly feared.

On the night she officially lost the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton enjoyed a long and friendly phone conversation with McCain. Clinton was actually on better terms with McCain than she was with Obama. Clinton and McCain had downed shots together on Senate junkets; they regarded each other as grizzled veterans of the political wars and shared a certain disdain for Obama as flashy and callow.

At the GOP convention in St. Paul, Palin was completely unfazed by the boys' club fraternity she had just joined. One night, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter went to her hotel room to brief her. After a minute, Palin sailed into the room wearing nothing but a towel, with another on her wet hair. She told them to chat with her laconic husband, Todd. "I'll be just a minute," she said."

Post Election Emotions

An interesting Press Release from Brandtrust, Inc.:


Chicago—Oct. 29, 2008—Voters envision an apocalyptic America filled with chaos, corruption and despair if the candidate whom they oppose is elected on Nov. 4. A study conducted in September by Brandtrust, a strategic research firm specializing in methodology designed to uncover emotional and psychological insights, revealed that committed party voters become highly emotionally charged, and they begin to speak of their survival in a very tribal and primal manner when asked to visualize what life would be like with the opposing party in office.

In the study—which was designed to better understand the underlying emotional drivers of party loyalty—voters commented that, “It’s more like a war,” “As soon as the energy leaves, there is a feeling of doomsday,” and “If you don’t win, hopefully you will survive. Hopefully you will move forward and make the best of it and that’s all you can do.”

Regardless of the issues raised or political arguments presented, voters—both republicans and democrats—are looking to the comfort and protection of their own party. In fact, when the scenario of the opposing party in power is presented to them, the sense of comfort and protection afforded by their group is erased, and they are left with a dire view of America.

“When the election is over and the proverbial day-after depression sets in for those who lost, it’s not merely a case of sour grapes. There are real underlying emotional and psychological dynamics at work,” said Daryl Travis, CEO and founder of Brandtrust. “For many party loyalists, their greatest fear has come to pass, and life will remain in a precarious state of limbo for four years.”

What does this mean for voters, political campaigns and even marketing and PR executives? The research conducted by Brandtrust presents a side of voters that is often overlooked in communication platforms. Even voters with the greatest awareness of the issues are responding to deep, non-conscious mental models of themselves, their party and their candidate.

As Travis explains, “The ‘issues,’ in many cases, don’t help voters make their decisions; they help them rationalize the decision they’ve already made on an emotional level.” While shouting platform policies is a requirement for any election, the little things, like relating to and understanding the voter on a more psychological level, may really help win elections.

Helps explain the emotional reaction of some.

Analyze the Election

For those of you who like to analyze the election, here is a good start:

The New York Times, Exit Polls, where you can compare voter demographics back to 1980, and
The New York Times, How the Map Changed From 2004, where you can see how voting at the county level changing between the 2004 and 2008 elections.

If you have any other suggestions, let me know.

Only 6%?

Think about it, Obama had nearly every advantage -- including youth, charisma, money, an economic meltdown, gobs of money, Iraq-mire, dissatisfaction with the incumbent, a confused opponent (someone please tell me, what was McCain's campaign theme), and did I say lots and lots of money -- yet he won only 52% of the national vote, defeating McCain by just 6%. The margin of victory in other recent elections:

  • 2004 - Bush 50.81 vs. Kerry 48.71
  • 2000 - Bush 49.97 vs. Gore 46.46
  • 1996 - Clinton 47.38 vs. Dole 41.02
  • 1992 - Clinton 40.18 vs. Bush 38.35

All things considered, it could/should have been much worse for the Republi-cons.

What do you think?

What Next for the Rogue Diva

What next for the rogue Diva. Read:

CNN, Analysis: Palin rocked campaign, for good and bad
Dallas Morning News, Palin faces questions, different landscape when she returns to Alaska
National Review Online, The Palin Effect

Should Palin run in 2012? Vote in the NoBullU poll.