Friday, July 27, 2012

Q Day 4: Electioneering Bias?

Via email:
One thing I've been wondering about: it seems like building a massive amount of manpower for a campaign is (one of?) the most effective way to deploy campaign resources for voter persuasion. But it also seems presiding over a huge media budget is much more lucrative for senior campaign flacks. Is there an agency problem here?

OK, I'm tempted to just leave it there...I don't really know how cost-effective massive personal-contact voter persuasion (and GOTV) are compared with TV ads, but yeah, I think that there's a good chance that the self-interests of campaign staff and especially consultants is a problem. I'd also guess, however, that there's also a bias among candidates in favor of electioneering that they can actually see. Stories of billboard ads purchased only on the route from the airport to an incumbent, Washington-based candidate's house in the district are not completely apocryphal.

I'm not sure who if anyone has done work on this, however, so I don't know whether we have any idea of the effect. Remember too that a lot of the research by Don Green and others is relatively recent, and there's also a big status quo bias against innovation. I'll also link to an article I haven't read yet about it; it's a practitioners and political scientists roundtable and is likely very useful if you're interested in these questions.

1 comment:

  1. This is spot on. The people who do big TV buys are often consultants that can get paid as a percentage of the ads. For example, Ed Morris and Mark Penn demanded an obscene amount of money to run Clinton's re-elect in this regard (Penn got to get paid for the huge amount of polling they did that even asked people questions like "do you think you're the life of the party?" to try and figure out how voters "think") and its even a minor plot point in an episode of "The West Wing".

    Field staff, who do the door knocking and build the massive infrastructure to facilitate outreach with volunteers on a large scale are almost always salaried employees of the campaign. So Obama's field director for Ohio has an incredibly important job for the campaign, but probably doesn't make more that 100k a year. Probably more like 40k.


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