What influences a person to vote one way or the other?
One of the hot topics of this year’s election is the role that “big data” is playing in helping to answer this question. The advantage of having access to so much information about the public - from polls, voter files, and social media profiles - is that it gives campaigns the ability to analyze the voting public on a more granular level.
Campaign strategists are using all of this information to develop new ways of understanding how voters think and to come up with creative tactics for influencing how they behave. In his new book, "The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns," Slate columnist Sasha Issenberg chronicles how campaigns are using behavioral psychology, data-mining, and randomized experiments to predict and influence voter behavior.
The book includes many real accounts from the political world. In once excerpt released by Politico, Issenberg describes how the 2008 Obama campaign found a way to overcome the “the Bradley Effect” - where polls overstate a black candidate’s standing because people are afraid to come off as insensitive when they are asked about racial issues.
The book officially launched earlier this week on The Victory Lab's NationBuilder website. Despite being on the road to promote the book, Sasha still took the time to share his thoughts on NationBuilder:
“As someone who covers politics, I've always thought that promoting a book was my opportunity to see if I can think like a candidate. I will spend most of the next two months on the road, across the country, stumping for The Victory Lab - trying to sell books, but also generate good media coverage and word of mouth in the local markets where I travel, too. Like a candidate, my events often draw a mix of strangers I'm trying to persuade to commit to my book and those whom I already know support what I do. One of the challenges is that I've never had a good way to channel the enthusiasm of those who've already read and liked the book towards spreading the word elsewhere.
“I found out about NationBuilder because I cover the world of modern political organizing and voter contact. As I began thinking earlier this summer about what I wanted in a new book website, I realized that most of the basic design elements I wanted - especially an easy-to-manage calendar function, list-building, and integration with social media - were already coded into NationBuilder. Most importantly the site allows me to give those who've already read and liked The Victory Lab a chance to do more and be part of its success, by signing up to let their friends know about the book.”
To hear more about the book and what Sasha learned over two years of researching election strategy, watch his interview with PBS below.