Thursday, December 27, 2012

Inside the Cave: In-Depth Look at Digital, Technology & Analytics Operation

The GOP and their conservative friends thought we were making progress in a sizable way in the 2012 election.

In our minds, we were confident that we were tracking at a comparable pace with the Obama campaign. The Obama 2008 team made such an incredible splash on the technology side that the GOP knew that they needed to master this field. Call the Obama 2008 success a slap in the face. In hindsight, the GOP should have been listening to communication experts and been on top of this years in advance of the 2008 elections. But I digress as that's a mute point now.

Elections 2012. The GOP Presidential contenders were out front, tracking aggressively in their effort to win on Election Day. I tip my proverbial hat to them for working hard, for a long time, to try to win the Presidential seat back to the GOP.

But what we were dismissing and overlooking was the brilliance of the technology mechanics and the chess-like maneuvers that the Obama team used. We tried pushing the same tactics for outreach - i.e. door knocking and phone calls -  from before but doing it only better and in greater quantities. While we were distracted with old mechanics, the Obama team was using old functions and moving with the culture, using the language and outreach needed to reach the 21st century citizenry. They won. And we lost. Now that we're done licking our wounds, we better get up and figure out how to quit being the losing team.

A friend sent me this report. It is profound as it reports numbers from both sides (Romney and Obama) and gives intel on why the Obama team was so successful.

We thought we had arrived as conservatives. I do think we greatly improved. But count me out of the GOP dialog if we're simply going to try and play catch up over the next 4 years. Next time around, the GOP and its conservative friends better have a report done like the following that shows how "we" broke the glass ceiling, created by the Obama team 2008 and 2012.

Here are a couple highlights:

"The Lesson: Don't fight the last war. In 2016, the game will be different...GOP needs to catch up AND get ahead of where campaigns are going next like OFA did with Analytics in 2012.

"What’s Next: 2016
• Better Social Targeting: Phones are falling of “the cliff” first but door knocks, still the gold
standard, don’t scale easily. Can personalized outreach from friends on Facebook become the
next phone call or door knock? The technology has plenty of room to improve. For one thing,
Obama for America didn’t necessarily use social data itself to enhance its voter file or
determine who to target. This will be standard by 2016.
"• Real-Time Analytics Overtakes Polling: We have only just begun to understand what Big Data
can do. The trend towards real-time analytics, and towards treating voters as individuals rather
than as members of crude subgroups within a poll sample, will continue to evolve. We will also
better be able to understand and model the relationship between online conversation and
public opinion (which we can’t currently do very well). In four years, the media will stand up
their own Analytics shops to better understand how voters are moving in real time.
"• True Digital Integration: Practitioners on both sides agree that 2012 was a big step forward for
integrating Digital with the rest of the campaign. Jeremy Bird notes than in eight years, “We
will have difficulty telling a Field Director apart from a Digital Organizing Director. They are
one and the same in future campaigns.” Indeed, as the backbone of the campaign itself moves
online, separate Digital departments may fade away. The challenge will be to accomplish this
transition while continuing to grow digital’s primacy within campaign organizations."