Saturday, October 18, 2008

About those McCain robocalls


Don't worry Obama fans: buying robocalls is what you do in a campaign when you are desperate -- and it doesn't work.

McCain is doing this because he doesn't have enough money to compete as we go down to the wire. See this article in Saturday's New York Times.

Mr. Obama’s advertisements come as Republicans have begun a blitz of automated telephone calls attacking him.

Obama bet he could fund his campaign from eager, anxious citizens; he has won his bet. So when John McCain tries to relax by watching the Arizona Cardinals, he is confronted by Obama on national television. (Odd way to relax ... but who's a 49er fan to talk?)

Buying robocalls is what you do when you can't afford anything better. I had responsibility once for a campaign in which our candidate was getting swamped by money. The other guy had $4 million -- we never got to $400 thousand. End of the campaign is coming, what to do? Blow a little on robocalls. Now I did something very different with our money than McCain has: instead of throwing sleaze, I targeted the calls to the demographic that included our supporters, hoping to encourage their efforts. (Didn't help; nothing could.) But I can imagine the bad choices McCain's handlers have.

Robocalls are mostly wasted money. This is the rare election tactic that is easily subject to social science research. There are academics who set up real world tests, with treatment groups who get the worked on by various electoral tactics and control groups that don't. I've looked at their research before here and here. They conclude that voters are nearly impervious to robocalls.

Just think about your own reactions: the more of these we get, the more we hate 'em. Even if we agree with them. I can't get worried about McCain's robocalls. They are just throwing the little money they have up in the air and hoping for a miracle.

Obama supporters need to keep working to turn out our voters and don't have to worry about McCain's desperate gambit.

1 comment:

Darlene said...

I'm glad you posted this information. I was getting irate when I read what they are saying on those robocalls. Now I can ignore the whole issue.

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