Thursday, May 30, 2013

Forecast: 2016 Election to See Social Data-Big Data Union

Social data drove the 2008 presidential election, big data drove the 2012 election, and the marriage of the two will determine the next President of the United States in 2016, predicts Gurbaksh Chahal, CEO of RadiumOne, in a Wired magazine blog article. So don't be surprised if spending for political campaigning climbs even higher than the record $6 billion spent on 2012 election ads across all media. Experts agree that Obama's 2012 win cemented the role of Big Data in campaigning, including get-out-the-vote efforts dominated by targeted messaging and digital behavioral tracking. Now big data has the opportunity to harness social media influence, mobile data and CRM databases for even greater power. New technologies, like hashtag targeting, custom ad re-targeting based on social interactions, mobile geolocation and CRM data can fuel 2016's ad campaigns and turn social sharing into paid media platforms, Chahal argues. With over 10 billion sharing events taking place each month over social media, there is definitely a wealth of new targeting information, if campaigns can figure how to efficiently sort through it. Social data feeding into big data strategies will change how political advertisers, all advertisers for that matter, approach marketing and will take targeting beyond simple impression and conversion metrics to an opportunity for a coordinated multi-channel, multi-touch approach across computers, mobile devices and tablets, concludes Chahal. And don't forget improved targeting of offline efforts like phone campaigns and direct mail, we would add. For more, see the article at

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Data Debunks IRS Rationale for 'Tea Party' Scandal

Top Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials have been saying that a “significant increase” in applications from advocacy groups seeking tax-exempt status spurred its Cincinnati office in 2010 to filter those requests by using politically loaded phrases such as “Tea Party” and “patriots.” Officials have cited an increase from about 1,500 applications for 501(c)(4) “social welfare” group tax-exempt status in 2010 and to nearly 3,500 in 2012. But the data doesn't bear out the IRS explanation, notes Doug Donovan in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The IRS scrutiny of conservative applications began in March 2010, before an uptick could have been observed, according to data contained in the audit from the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration. Plus, the number of 501(c)(4) applications for all of 2010 was actually less than in 2009: According to the audit, 1,735 groups applied for 501(c)(4) exemption for the federal fiscal year that ended September 30, 2010 -- six months after the IRS began its scrutiny -- which was actually down slightly from 1,751 the prior year. The applications total did grow to 2,265 during the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2011, and to 3,357 for 2012, but by then the criteria the IRS was using to flag groups had changed to include searches for groups with names that contained “Bill of Rights,” “educating on the constitution,” and “limiting/expanding government.” For more, see the story at

Thursday, May 23, 2013

When Holiday, Campaign Mailings Vie for Attention

Heading into autumn election periods, many marketers worry about how to time their messages so that they don't fight for attention in mailboxes stuffed with holiday offers and election mail. Catalog consultant Stephen Lett addressed this point during the 2012 election year. He argues that it is not necessarily a disadvantage to be in-home during an election week. Since many other mailers are avoiding that week, there actually should be less competition in the mailbox! Today, many consumers who are glued to the television during an election are also watching results online or on their mobile devices, meaning they can shop or donate while they keep tabs on what is happening. Lett cited data from the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections to make his point about timing. In 2004, approximately 22% of the sales for the period came in during election week, with about 84% of the circulation for the period in-home prior to the election. In comparison, the 2008 mailing was in-home the actual week of the election, and 20% of sales came in during election week. With only a 2% difference in election week sales despite the differing mail dates, he concluded that moving the in-home to election week had little impact on the response pattern. See the Chief Marketer story at

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Learn From Hillary: Turn Your Names Into Cash

Your database of supporters can be a money-maker without fundraising appeals. Just ask Hillary Clinton. In 2009, then-Secretary of State Clinton hauled in nearly $3.5 million in less than a year by selling access to the donor database accumulated in her unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. The names and addresses of her supporters were rented at least 60 times to a range of groups, including the Democratic Party, other Democratic politicians and advocacy groups. If your campaign or cause hasn't already done so, you should explore cashing in on the value of your names via rentals or list exchanges. The demand for quality mailing lists remains strong, and an experienced list management professional can help with both generating interest and safeguarding your names from overuse or misuse. To see how Hillary benefited, check out the story at

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Did Some Dollars Count More in 2012 Campaigns?

A fascinating analysis by Tom Edsall for The New York Times Opinionator blog recently looked at the new landscape of campaign finance after the McCain-Feingold reforms and the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United. It seems all the more timely now that campaign finance reform has become embroiled in the IRS scandal. His data shows that, with today's political fundraising, some dollars are worth more than others to candidates, and political parties and candidates are not necessarily aided by the flood of super PAC and 501(c)4 money. Edsall notes that, in the last presidential election, Republicans not only outspent Democrats in total, but pro-Romney super PACs and independent groups doled out over $426 million, compared with the approximately $138 million that PACs and independent groups spent to support Obama. But Obama won. Why didn't dollars tip the scales? The answer isn't simple, but Edsall's figures do highlight one key factor: Dollars did count --if you're talking about the amount of money effectively controlled by each candidate's campaign. The Obama campaign had full control of 61.4% of the $1.11 billion in total Democratic presidential campaign spending (over $683 million) and designed a strategically coherent, micro-targeted, multi-channel campaign with the money. The Romney campaign controlled only 34.8%, or about $433 million, of the GOP team's larger $1.24 billion in spending -- the majority of the dollars were under the aegis of the national party and PAC/independent fundraisers. So the Romney staff actually had direct control of fewer resources at the same time that they faced spending on a contested primary and competition from sometimes inconsistent messaging by well-heeled independent support groups. Edsall predicts candidate-oriented PACs will pop up in coming elections -- further siphoning control from the parties and candidates themselves. For Edsall's detailed analysis of presidential campaign spending, go to

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Will IRS Mess Undercut Campaign Finance Reform?

The scandal over IRS targeting of conservative and Tea Party nonprofits has at least one consequence so far: It has thrown the charge for campaign finance reform into disarray. Democrats in the Senate had planned on pushing for a new round of campaign finance reporting reforms aimed at limiting the impact of Super PACs and 501(c)4 "social welfare" groups, such as Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, which proliferated after the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in 2010. Now Senate subcommittee hearings planned for June are on hold, so that, as Subcommittee Chair Carl Levin, D-Mich., explained, senators can prepare to investigate the IRS issue as well. Officially, Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insist that the IRS bias against conservative groups only underscores the need for campaign finance reform to clarify tax-exempt rules. But that is a position unlikely to win bipartisan support in Congress now. For more quotes from the politicos, check out the BuzzFeed article at

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Chatter Revs About 2016 GOP Presidential Hopefuls

Chatter about the 2016 presidential race has already started. Note the excited buzz over New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's weight-loss surgery. Now The Washington Post The Fix blog has debuted its top 10 contenders for the GOP nomination. Too soon? Political campaigning for the presidency begins years before the election, argue the bloggers, noting, "If you don’t think the candidates prominently mentioned as potential 2016ers aren’t already thinking about that race, well, you are wrong." Here's The Fix list of Republican presidential options, ranked by their likely chance at the nomination: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; former vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; Indiana Gov. Mike Pence; Ohio Gov. John Kasich; Ohio Sen. Rob Portman; and South Dakota Sen. John Thune. The list of top Democratic presidential contenders hasn't been revealed, but, spoiler alert, Hillary Clinton is going to be on the roster. For more, see

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Super PACs Forming to Back Hillary Clinton in 2016

Super PACs are popping up to back Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, even though the former secretary of state and former First Lady hasn't announced her candidacy. Of the three super PACs formed to date (none with the formal blessing of Ms. Clinton), the largest and most successful is Ready for Hillary, set up in February. It collected almost 60,000 Twitter followers and over 55,000 Facebook fans even before its website launched, and it even earned supportive words from former Democratic strategist James Carville in a recent e-mail campaign. Its founders haven't disclosed any fundraising numbers, however. Meanwhile, other super PACs for Hillary include HILLARYCLINTONSUPERPAC and HillaryFTW, both launched by politically amateur but ardent supporters of Ms. Clinton. If Ms. Clinton decides to run for the presidency, fundraising is likely to quickly eclipse such early efforts. Her Democratic and corporate connections will create a strong, readymade donor base for a Clinton-sanctioned super PAC. Polls show Ms. Clinton leading potential opponents in voter interest, too. Other possible presidential candidates certainly aren't attracting such early PAC attention from fans -- or foes. There's even an anti-Hillary super PAC just formed: Defeat Hillary. For more, see the Politico story at

Thursday, May 2, 2013

SEC Pressed to Require Political Donation Disclosure

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is being pressed by a coalition of Democratic officials, shareholder activists and pension funds to require publicly traded companies to disclose to shareholders all their political donations, according to a New York Times story. Per the report, SEC officials indicated that they may respond with a rule proposal very soon, while powerful business and conservative groups have already begun to fight a move they see as regulatory overreach. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable have all joined in a stand against requiring businesses to disclose political spending. House Republicans have hurriedly put together a bill to make it illegal for the SEC to regulate company political disclosure. Even the SEC is divided along political lines. The SEC has three Democratic and two Republican commissioners, and the Republican commissioners have publicly voiced their opposition to a disclosure requirement. But it will be hard for the SEC to ignore the issue; the petition for an SEC ruling on political donation disclosure has already received almost half a million comments, mostly pro, which is more than any petition in the agency's history, noted the news report. For more, see