Sunday, January 31, 2016


Close Enough For Government Work?
Tomorrow is the beginning of the end: the actual voting starts in the next presidential cycle. Everything up until now has been conjecture, positioning, and spin. It is also the end of the beginning. The invisible primary is over. The "Summer of Trump" is past--so is the "Autumn of Trump" and, probably, the "Winter of Trump."

Tomorrow we get our first peek inside the black-box of voter's heads--and what they do when their choice actually matters.

Ted Cruz: Naive Psychopath?

The Omnivore was talking to someone about Cruz and the person gave his opinion: "He's basically a psychopath, isn't he? That's how he comes off." Huh, thought The Omnivore--yeah--that's not too far off.

But something didn't sit right with that description--what was it? Oh yeah, psychopaths are superficially charming. Ted Cruz isn't charming on any level.

Still, the point was well made--Cruz is a do-anything-to-win type who seems to have no trouble putting a knife in someone's back (or front) on the way up the ladder.

Here's the mailer his team sent out to voters in Iowa they wanted to turn-out for caucus:
The mailer is designed to look like a parking ticket or some other official notice and it mines voter-data to see who has or has not gone to caucus. It also lists the recipient's record--along with their neighbors. It threatens that a follow up will be sent after the caucus on Monday (so if they didn't go, their neighbors will know).

This was met--by Cruz fans--with jaw-dropping surprise. In fact, immediately, it was deemed fraudulent. This gif made the rounds:
Alas, it was not to be--the Cruz campaign owned up to having done it. The Omnivore, however, was struck by having read something about Ted Cruz's digital-game (he, alas, can't find the quote). The GOP is coming to the Big Data space late. They were critically behind the Democrats in 2012 and paid for it.

Cruz is using some of his (large) war-chest to turn that around. His people talked up their psycho-targeting of individuals based on data-mining their preferences and such (which magazines do they subscribe to? If it's Guns & Ammo, they might be a Cruz voter!).

An analyst on the Dem side noted, however, that they were still just starting out--and were therefore vulnerable to digital snake-oil. They said the kind of psychological profiling they were talking about didn't work as well in reality as it did on paper.

It turns out that the Obama campaign had done something like what Cruz did in 2012. Behold:

This mailer does the same kind of thing--it takes a voter's record and compares it to the neighbors'. There are some BIG differences.

  1. This was done by Obama in the General Election--in a Primary you can turn out and then vote for Marco Rubio. That's a LOT less likely than turning out for Hillary if you're a Republican.
  2. The "Report Card" doesn't name names. 
  3. It also doesn't come packaged as a VIOLATION. It doesn't make threats of a follow-up.
Basically, it's still vote-shaming, after a fashion--but it is designed not to look like an intimidation tactic. The Cruz campaign . . .  didn't get that.

It May Not Matter

The Iowa-Is-A-Must-Win thing for Cruz isn't literally true: he can keep going for quite a while (and if he pulls a strong second, which looks likely--if not a win) he may not even be too badly damaged. On the other hand, the flip-side is: if Ted doesn't win Iowa, what state does he win? The general consensus is that at some point people will wise up and bail on the Trump Train--but that doesn't look likely.

It's also clear that Ted's strategy of hugging The Donald in order to sit beside him on his political death-bed (before smothering him with a pillow, probably) has backfired in the worst way. Trump has played the Canadian card--and it has stuck. What Trump didn't finish, the last debate probably did. Cruz is damaged at a bad time--and his various stratagems have brought him here.

If he does lose Iowa, he's in a hole that's pretty deep and he'll need a game changer--but in a field where everyone is looking for a game changer . . . they may be hard to come by.
Not So Much . . .

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