How Messina Pulled Off Obama Victory

Aaron Flint posted on November 13, 2012 09:39 :: 710 Views

How did Montana politico Jim Messina, a University of Montana alum and former Chief of Staff to Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), pull off a huge re-election victory as campaign manager for President Barack Obama? 

This is now a somewhat dated piece from Time magazine, but if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a read. The headline reads, “Inside the Secret World of the Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win.”  Here’s an excerpt:

But from the beginning, campaign manager Jim Messina had promised a totally different, metric-driven kind of campaign in which politics was the goal but political instincts might not be the means. “We are going to measure every single thing in this campaign,” he said after taking the job. He hired an analytics department five times as large as that of the 2008 operation, with an official “chief scientist” for the Chicago headquarters named Rayid Ghani, who in a previous life crunched huge data sets to, among other things, maximize the efficiency of supermarket sales promotions.

Exactly what that team of dozens of data crunchers was doing, however, was a closely held secret. “They are our nuclear codes,” campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt would say when asked about the efforts. Around the office, data-mining experiments were given mysterious code names such as Narwhal and Dreamcatcher. The team even worked at a remove from the rest of the campaign staff, setting up shop in a windowless room at the north end of the vast headquarters office. The “scientists” created regular briefings on their work for the President and top aides in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, but public details were in short supply as the campaign guarded what it believed to be its biggest institutional advantage over Mitt Romney’s campaign: its data.

(h/t our newsman Brian Bennett)


Tuesday, November 13, 2012 10:43 AM

It is sad, and a sign of the times, that an incumbent administration will put this much effort into the analysis of re-election data, but no attempt at an economic study that would deliver a budget or economic plan that is mathematically viable.

Even sadder – today’s American voters can’t distinguish between the irrepressible thirst for raw power and the true, patriotic desire to make life better for all.

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