Is behavior predictable? Perhaps, if you are either entirely a
creature of instinct or one of principle. Few people are so
simple as these extremes, yet some would certainly try. Imagine a
day when the statistical methods of
Behavioral Science could be used to manipulate an election to produce a
predetermined outcome. In such a system, statistical analysis of
individuals' views on various issues and perhaps their strength of
feeling about them would determine a public communication of party
ideology only crafted for the greatest odds of gaining and holding
power. On an individual basis, polls and surveys would collect
voters which would then be analyzed to determine what ploys would be
necessary to get their vote. Then when the day came to contact
again - whether by phone or mailing - Behavioral Science would secure
their vote. That day is here! Consider the following
about the Democratic Party's use of these techniques to manipulate an
As chief scientist for President
Obama’s reelection effort, Rayid
Ghani helped revolutionize the use of data in politics. During the
final 18 months of the campaign, he joined a sprawling team of data and
software experts who sifted, collated, and combined dozens of pieces of
information on each registered U.S. voter to discover patterns that let
them target fund-raising appeals and ads.1
This technique did not find use in fund-raising alone, but in direct
manipulation of voters as further stated in the same article.
But the campaign’s success in
applying such methods on the fly to sway
voters is now recognized as having been potentially decisive in the
The article continues to tell what sort of data was analyzed.
At Obama for America, Ghani
helped build statistical models that
assessed each voter along five axes: support for the president;
susceptibility to being persuaded to support the president; willingness
to donate money; willingness to volunteer; and likelihood of casting a
vote. These models allowed the campaign to target door knocks, phone
calls, TV spots, and online ads to where they were most likely to
The idea of individually targeted behavioral ploys suggests that
different - and perhaps contradictory - things are being to played to
each individual. The following excerpt from another article
that ploys were devised that were able to secure the betrayal of
Republican voters to their own party. Mind bending!
The people who first developed
microtargeting models used in persuasion had assumed, like the rest of
us, that voters in the center are the most up for grabs. But in 2006,
EMILY’s List ran a series of persuasion experiments that raised doubts
about this assumption. The Democratic women’s group sent out mailers on
behalf of female gubernatorial candidates in Michigan and Washington,
then polled across the entire universe of recipients to gauge the
impact of the messages.
The voters who’d been assessed as sitting closest to the middle of the
road barely budged. In fact, there was significantly more movement
among those who were projected to be leaning toward the Republican
candidate than among those whose mid-range scores situated them evenly
between the two poles. “Campaigns love to find out what segments of the
population are their targets,” Strauss told me last summer in an
interview for my book The Victory Lab. But that alone, he went on, was
insufficient. “Targeting is all about finding people whose behavior
will change and changing that behavior.” And it turned out that the
people who’d scored close to 50 on the zero-to-100 spectrum of support
weren’t the people whose behavior was most likely to change. Whatever
those support scores were measuring, it wasn’t exactly susceptibility
In addition to scientists hired for this task, Google also may have
helped Obama build his behavior programming machine. When I heard
that Obama was so pleased with Google's CEO that he wanted him on his
cabinet, I thought it in return for censoring Obama adversaries.
However, the code to target Google advertisements to the specific
interests of internet users based on cookies and search history is
conveniently very similar to the sort of code necessary to individually
Although the Slate article represents Obama and the Democrats as merely
better at voter manipulation than the Republicans, the various machine
election activities seen in 2012 tell otherwise. Remember these
points that I made in an article after the election:3
The 2012 Presidential election
showed many signs of a machine election.
- The election carried
throughout a comprehensive and ruthless propaganda campaign made
successful by liberal media help. The observation that the
Democrats and their allies consistently told the same lies, in the same
way, with largely the same words suggests the liberal line was
deliberately planned and then carried out by all the
participants. The Republicans in contrast appeared to argue their
point of view independently from zeal for the logic and validity of
- If this observation
passed the notice of some, the debates were a clear revelation.
Questions posed by Obama-friendly moderators were targeted to put their
favorite in the best light and to draw the conservative debater into a
calculated controversy. The vice-presidential debate which was
moderated by an ally of Obama whose wedding Obama had recently attended
was appalling. Biden calculated juvenile laughter to befuddle his
opponent and the moderator joined his humor as the debate continued its
one-sided course. In the second presidential debate, the
moderator contended against Romney on behalf of Obama in a clear
display of partiality at one point even to asserting her own liberal
lie. I thought at that point that Romney would win the election
on the basis of sportsmanship alone. However, tyranny cannot rest.
- Now if Obama was
concerned that things were slipping, he could buy votes. An
executive grant of short term amnesty for illegals would buy him Latino
votes. And win them he did.
- If these were
not enough, election day itself produced credible reports of widespread
voter fraud favoring Obama.4
Instead the Romney campaign is credited by Slate to have fumbled its
opportunity to persuade voters because of improper targeting.
Instead, it is more astute to attribute the same observations to the
simple fact that Romney thought he could win simply by the honest
presentation of a more decent and logical ideology. Consider that
the following assessment cited in the Slate article shows Romney simply
expounding his views rather than targeting the voter for manipulation.
In August, a Virginia playwright
and newspaper editor named Dwayne Yancey was surprised to see a series
of glossy direct-mail pieces from the Romney campaign arrive at his
home outside Roanoke. The first two brochures had to do with coal
mining, which struck Yancey as irrelevant to him or his family: They
live four hours from the nearest mine, and coal production carries
little of the romantic imagery for Yancey that have led Republicans to
believe it was a potent issue in West Virginia and Kentucky.2
After Obama has deceived your vote, he intends to program your beliefs
as well. An article that I read some time ago said that Obama had
hired a MIT graduate to study how to persuade the public to change
their beliefs, presumably to conform to those like his. Their
in Behavioral Psychology or some related field would bring science to
bear on this task.
All of this seems to me to be a racket creating a political machine,
rather than a democracy representing the voters' interests. If
this is an exact science, it might end democracy altogether. Just
the data collected may be an unscrupulous violation of privacy.
ever happened to the concept of politicians just standing for the
values they believe and leaving
the voters to make an honest choice.
If you want to be your own person, you might consider the following
actions. Don't give the party pollsters your
views and don't receive their manipulations when they call you
back. Perhaps too, you should hinder collection of personal data
on the internet as well.
- Obama is pursuing Democratic Congressmen with campaign help
that they do not want, a move illogical unless he has some
certainty of winning that they do not have.
- Harry Reid is quoted as saying that he will not leave his
leadership position regardless of the outcome of the election.
- There are already reports that voting machines in some
districts are converting votes for Republican candidates to benefit the
Democratic candidates instead. One such regularity was reported
by a Republican congressman when he went to early voting in his state
Is it possible that this means that the Democrats are preparing some
stunt just prior to the election? Or are they overconfident in
their ability to manipulate angry voters? Lets watch and see.
Resist the machine!
1Ted Greenwald, "Data Won
the U.S. Election. Now Can It Save the World?," May 29, 2013, MIT
Technology Review, technologyreview.com,
2Sasha Issenberg, "Obama Does It
Better: When it comes to targeting and persuading voters, the Democrats
have a bigger advantage over the GOP than either party has ever had in
the modern campaign era," Slate.com,
3See related article: Executive Machine.
4Michael Snyder, "22
Signs That Voter Fraud Is Wildly Out Of Control And The Election Was A
Sham," Market Daily News, November 13th, 2012, link.
October 29, 2014 Created.
October 29, 2014 Expanded the argument to add clarity.