by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Politicians tailor their messages to different audiences. Facing New Hampshire’s primary, Ted Cruz talked more about “free-market principles” and a “commitment to the Constitution” and said “no one personality can right the wrongs done by Washington.” Politico ran the headline “Ted Cruz, born-again libertarian.”
I’m skeptical. Campaigning in Iowa, Cruz had emphasized religion and social conservatism.
But politicians no longer just target voters state-by-state — they target by person.
Last election, President Obama beat Mitt Romney partly by doing just that. Obama had 50 people working in data analytics. Romney had four.
“The campaign manager for the Obama campaign said the biggest institutional advantage they had was its use of data,” observes Cato Institute fellow Emily Ekins.
Conservatives had data too, she says, but “Republican insiders tended to be a little bit closed-minded when it came to new methodologies.”
Not Cruz. He told my producers recently, “I bought a copy of David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager’s book, ‘The Audacity to Win,’ gave it to our senior team (and told them) we are going to nakedly and shamelessly emulate this.”
The Obama campaigns kept detailed computer records on individuals likely to vote for Obama. On Election Day, volunteers concentrated on getting just those voters to vote.
Likewise, this year the Cruz campaign didn’t send volunteers to every single door to ask people for their vote. They saved precious time by knocking only on doors of likely Cruz voters who might need a nudge to go to the polls.
Cruz technology manager Chris Wilson told us that the campaign will then do “whatever it takes. We go to their house. We’ll bug them until they either turn out to vote or get a restraining order against us.”