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tv   Politics Public Policy Today  CSPAN  September 12, 2014 11:00am-1:01pm EDT

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military force. the second is to rebut some of the criticisms that have been made of our work, particularly some i think adam is going to make following me. third to try to make the case in a modest way that citizens engage in some form of cost/benefits approach when thinking about decisions of using force. and so the goals for today is to really try and maximize some of the difference in our different perspectives. friends who sort of study things related to this area say don't you all mostly more or less agree? sure, maybe at some level, but it will make a much better panel if we say we disagree a lot more. and also i think it's important to try and push each other to make the work as good as it possibly is.
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this is obviously very substantively important topic under what conditions will the public support military force, and it's important we understand and it's important we push each other really hard to try and make the work as good as it can. the half-life for any social research is probably fairly short anyway. so it's worth discussing it sort of with as much friendly enga engagement as we can. so it's hard to understate the importance of john mueller's work in shaping this whole research agenda and what people look at. and the importance of casualties in shaping public opinion about war. i think sadly sort of inside the
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beltway policy community has misinterpreted some of his work. largely the public will immediately oppose war once the body bags start coming home. i'm not exactly sure that's what his work se, but that became the conventional view and oftentimes was attached to him. there are several real difficulties in studying how casualties affect public opinion. the main way that we study public opinion obviously is through surveys. and when we want to measure how the public is -- how they might be sensitive to casualties, one of the problems is that any given survey is typically conducted over a shr short window -- two, three, four days -- so that everybody who is called or interviewed for that survey in some capacity basically experiences the same number of casualties that the war has seen at that point. there aren't dramatic, dramatic
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changes in casualty numbers that change from the first day of a survey to the third, fourth, or fifth day of a survey. so that leaves us unfortunately with several different ways to measure how sensitive public is to casualties. one, we can try and use aggregate data so that we can take overall poll results, support for a particular mission, a variety of different questions that we could use, and we could try and see how support may decrease over time as casualties increase. one problem with that is that that's perfectly correlated with time. casualties unfortunately can't go down and time can't go backwards. so we're stuck with always observing increasing casualties at the same time we're observing increases in the amount of time of the conflict. another approach is to ask
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people a variety of questions in a given survey, and this is what my co-authors and i do among other things, and then we use a question very similar to the one that john presented from the "l.a. times" in 2002 in which how does the public respond to -- if you tell them, would you still support it if there were this many casualties? and so that's problematic because people may not be able to experience those casualties. they may not know under what conditions those casualties were experienced. one of the main criticisms that adam will make is that if we use this as our measure of war support and measuring sensitivity to casualties, that it's very possible that that measure of measuring -- the ability to measure sensitivity to casualties is going to be indigenous to overall war support so it's a different
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measure. the third approach is to use experiments, similar to this approach, and give people similarly worded questions about scenarios in which the united states might use force or other countries might use force and change the number of casualties involved and see how that changes support. but those end up having to be hypothetical missions and so we aren't necessarily tied into real-world scenarios like what should the united states do in iraq right at this moment and how would the public respond. so we have a substantively important problem with a very difficult measurement problem. so the work i've done with chris and peter, and i keep mentioning them in the hopes that some of the hate mail that we will generate will go to them and not just to me, peter was on a
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different panel that was televised by c-span this morning. and he showed me the death threat e-mail he's received since then. so, chris and peter, if you want to send a death threat, send it to them, not me. so the -- one of the really important themes of our work is the importance of success. we we argue that people are much more likely to support missions that will be successful. and that a consequence of this is that people are willing to tolerate even extremely large numbers of casualties for a successful mission. and are unwilling to tolerate even small numbers of casualties for missions that they think will not be successful. and so one of the things i think is particularly important about
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this is that the extent to which people pay attention to wars and conflicts that embedded in this is an assumption or that people are able to have some sense of what's going on about the world or how the progress of a war is proceeding. this is i think another major point of difference between my work and i think in particular adam's work. in addition, we think this is perfectly consistent with an overall costs and benefits approach. one way to think about it is you have costs of war, you have benefits of war, and that we should probably discount the potential benefits of war by the probability of success. and so if the prospect of success is really, really low, then whatever benefits that there may be from winning a war have to be discounted by that low probability of success.
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and so some other work that i've done with other co-authors uses a famous in political science framework trying to measure the costs and benefits approach and we find that it works. so now to address some of the common critiques of our work. first is that our emphasis on the importance of perceptions of success is misguided because it relies on people being able to have unmediated knowledge of battlefield events, what's actually going on in the war. i think to a large extent this is a strong man argument. there's nothing that we write that says that knowledge of the situation on the ground and conflict has to be unmediated or
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that it even necessarily has to be accurate. people can believe that a war will be successful and support it even when evidence on the ground may suggest that it won't be and vice versa. another common critique is that success or perceptions of success are indoginous to support. people who already support a war think it will be successful, people who oppose a war think it will be unsuccessful. this is a perfectly reasonable critique of some of our cross-sectional work, but we and others have shown in survey experiments where we systematically vary the likelihood of success in a mission, that we tell participants in our experiments that missions are likely to be more successful or less successful, and that those have very predictable effects in the extent to which people support the use of force.
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and another common critique of our work is that what if casualties are simply the metric of success that people look at, that they measure a war based on how many casualties there are? and if there are lots of casualties the war is inherently unsuccessful and if there are few casualties then the war is inherently successful? in the work that we've done, we find that there is little evidence that this is the primary metric that people look to towards success. it doesn't mean that it is never used, but it's at a minimum not the primary metric that people use. so our core argument is that people are more willing to support missions when they think they're going to be successful and that successful missions, people will tolerate even large
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numbers of casualties, and so unsuccessful missions, people will be opposed even when there are really small numbers of casualties. and so one of the other sort of competing theories out there, again, from adam, is that elite cues are really important in understanding public support. that the public responds to what elites tell them and that these fall largely on partisan or group identification lines. and i think that there are a few important arias where this theory could be pushed further and could be refined. that's the friendly way of saying that i think that it's wrong. as i know adam will come up with a friendly way to say that he thinks that i am wrong.
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maybe not so friendly. we are friend when we are not doing something like the this. so one isn't a terribly strong theory of which cues people attend to or why. there are a number of cues out there that people could attend to. it doesn't sufficiently separate the persuasive arguments that elites make in terms of supporting or opposing war versus just who says it. it unfortunately doesn't explain democratic support for the iraq war before the iraq war very well in that there is majority opposition to the iraq war among democrats prior to the iraq war in 2002 and 2003, yet all leading democrats were they are for it or at least tacitly not against it.
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i think the most troubling aspect or the area that i would like to see pushed the most is that it doesn't tell us that much about elite-level decisionmaking. so one of the nice things about theory of perceptions of success is that it also might give us some insight into how political elites and military planners think about war. it seems to me not unreasonable to think that those in the military would be resistant to missions that they think are -- and political leaders to missions they think are going to be unsuccessful and more supportive of missions they think are going to be successful, whereas an elite cue theory doesn't give us any potential insight into the main reasons why elites are suppo supporting or opposing particular missions and the use
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of force. and i have exceeded my allotted time already by about three minutes, and that felt super fast. all right. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> great. thank you. great. it's great being here. i've been on different panels through the years with both john and jason, so we have these kinds of back and forth. but it's really nice, as jason said, we are generally friendly, and so this is good. before i begin, i think we're on c-span so if my kid are watching i want to say ahnd get your hands off each other. so let's start with a story, and this actually gets to something jason concluded with. we have two party, party a and party b. we won't call them what they are, but the party a is the party of the president, the president who at this moment is
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considering intervention in a foreign country, and party a is the opposition to the president, i'm sorry, making particular arguments. again, we're talking about the quality of the arguments here that jason was say, not just who's saying it but what they're saying. americans are going to be killed. they're going to come home in body bags and be killed in a war that congress has not declared. second senator says i'm afraid we might be starting something here we can't get out of. i'm afraid we might be here for years and years and years. by party b, the party of the president, expresses support for the president's position, saying we should have an intervention. i know some of my colleagues believe strongly that the administration has not articulated forcefully, consistently, and clearly, the missions and goals of this use of force, we cannot let these kinds of atrocities and humanitarian disasters continue if we have in our power to stop them. i believe it's our duty to act. and as a scholar of public opinion, i'm very interested in how does the mass public respond
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to these kinds of contrary arguments. we can see generally the public falls behind their particular leaders. question asked at the same time of this debate, considering everything, do you think the u.s. did the right thing in getting involved in the military conflict? do you think it was a mistake? party a, 46% says it's the right thing. party b, party of the president, 66% say it's the right thing. so this sounds very much like the rhetoric, the kinds of arguments that were marshalled before the iraq war and the reaction as john showed us this partisan split after the iraq war. but this isn't the iraq war. this is the spring of 1999, and we're talking about kosovo, right so, the party of opposition of republicans, party b, the party supporting the president noted hawk paul wellstone. we have these kinds of armgts here marshalled in the iraq war
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and also marshalled in support of the kosovo intervention but by the different parties. so this gets at what jason was saying, yes, we need to consider in theory the kinds of arguments people are making, but the argument i'm making in my book is if we just look at who says it, not what they say or how they say it, just who is taking the position, who's supporting the war, who's opposing us, that can get us to explaining the majority of support for war. so in my book, the central argument i'm making is that what we learned in about 65, 70 5 years of study of american public opinion can and should be applied to foreign policy a well. not just about domestic politics. opinion about war is just like opinion about domestic politics. now, there's room for dramatic events, where i'm not saying that events don't matter at all. think about pearl harbor and 9/11. these can change opinion. but contrary to the conventional wisdom, public opinion during times of crisis is shaped by
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some of the same attachments we see in the domestic stage. i want to spend most of my time talking about -- i brought if some slides. i'm happy to talk to you afterward to have a back and forth. but i just want to spend the rest of my time making the argument i make in my book here. and so it's a pretty simple one, right, that public opinion is primarily structured by the ebb and flow of partisan and group-based political conflict. in my book i talk about world war ii, the role of ethnic attachments there, but i'm going to focus here on partisan attachments, democrats and republicans. and i argue that citizens understand war not for a cost-benefit analysis, so here is where i do differ from john and jason, but through opinion ingredients where the kinds of things that go through people's heads that are more close to home. partisanship and attachments to particular political leaders are the driving force of public opinion about war. so opinion about war is not willy-nilly. there was a time in american politics where we talked about sort of a plastic mood of public
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opinion shifting to and free throw -- fro. we're not saying that. there is a structure but it's a simple one that follows partisan conflict. i call this my elite cue theory. so citizens take cues from partisan elites, from political leaders. i'd say that information matt matters, right so, people need to know where leaders stand in order to take cues from them, right so, that if you want to know -- let's say you're a republican, you want to take cues from party leadership, you need to have some attention to politics. you need to be paying some ateng to know who stands where on which issue. i'm going to get to that in a minute. and that these cues i think can be negative or positive. so something john and jason brought up is basically how can we explain democratic opposition to the iraq war when democratic politicians rr largely silent? in the book i argue that polarization, right, this difference between the parties, can occur even in the absence of
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vocal opposition. if cue givers take strong and distinct positions. so think about it in the case of the iraq war, george bush. so i live now in cambridge, massachusetts. i grew up on the upper west side of manhattan. i can tell you from experience talking to my friends george bush was a very strong cue giver in those cases. if people -- if george bush liked something according to many of the people i grew up with, it had to be wrong. so you don't need to have democrats saying this is a bad war. you just have to have people especially in the wake of -- think about george bush in the 2000 election that it's something that basically for majority of democrats, anything that george bush was for they were against. one of my favorite things, there's a great book by gary jacobson looking at hoe larization in american politics. and there's a question that says is george bush a uniter or divider? that was asked right after the 2000 election. it's often quoted because 50% said he was a uniter, 50% says a
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divider. if you look among democrats, about 80% said he was a divider, among republicans, 80% said he was a uniter. so where you stand fends on where you sit. i think that's a driving force here. we can see this in public opinion. so john told you about the split in partisan public opinion. and this is through the end of 2008, which is when i stopped writing the book, and i haven't updated it since then. but it's more of the same. there's no happy ending where everyone comes together. you can see throughout the iraq war you had huge partisan gaps, you know, that support ebbs and flows, but that partisan gap remains strong. so this is kind of one thing. here's a very simple way to show the impact of partisanship. i just want to show it a little more subtly. remember i said that information matters, right, how much attention people pay to politics matters. so what i do in my book and what others have done before me, most notably john zeller, is to look at what happens if we compare
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republicans who pay a lot of attention to politics to democrat who is pay a lot of attention to politics. these are the people who should be most divided. if you don't pay attention to politics, you're not really sure, even though you call yourself a democrat, maybe you don't know where the democrats stand, if you're republican, you don't know where the republicans stand, we should see smaller gaps. so john zeller really did the seminal piece of public opinion work in the last 25 years. this is a very high-tech graph. you can see here. kind of draw you to this bottom here. this is the first iraq war. this is the percent who say congress should approve military action against iraq. this is right before the war starts. you can see among the people at the lowest level of political awareness on the far left, these are people who don't pay any attention to politics, no differences between republicans and democrats. but if we look at the highly informed, the people who pay the most attention, we see large splits, right. so i want you to kind of take
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this visual frame here, divergence versus here, this middle graph, which is right before in october when democrats -- you might -- i remember, probably not everyone in this room remembers -- before the 1990 election there was a delicate dance where democrats didn't want to say they were opposed to the war in advance of the 1990 my term election. so here you can see convergence, right. there are still differences between republicans and democrats, but the more attention you pay to politics, the more likely you are to support war. so kind of visually convergencc, divergence. if we look at the iraq war, so this is one of many graphs i have in the book, i'm going to spare you the whole span, is we see divergence. now, in the book i talk not just about iraq but i spend a lot of time talking about world war ii because there was a lot of polling done during world war ii that was largely unexamined for many years. actually, when i was doing the rnl for my book, the only person
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who mentioned these polls, actually john's book had a nice section talking about these old polls, but you'd think that in all the vast literature on public opinion and more, people would have looked at world war ii, which, you know, i wasn't around for that, but i'm told it was an important war. but luckily for me they didn't. so i was able to write this book. with a colleague at berkeley, we resuscitated a lot of these opinion polls that hadn't been looked at for many years. i just want to show you a couple things that again sort of support this theory about elite cues, convergence and divergence. let me show you one thing here, show you that even before the war -- so there's this notion that before u.s. entry, before pearl harbor, the public was strongly opposed to war. so when asked should we declare war, a lot of people said no. but if you ask the question that was relevant at the time, do you think we should help england or
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stay out of the war? what's more important? you could see steadily increasing support for this position. this is especially true among democrats, as i show in the book. and so looking at this, looking at this convergence versus divergence, we would expect before entry in world war ii that democrats who paid more attention to politics, people who supported fdr, would be more likely to endorse his position. people who opposed fdr would be less likely. i'm going to skip ahead here. this is just to show that, indeed, if you look at politicians in congress we're talking about it, you saw a divergence, before world war ii -- i'm sorry, before pearl harbor, between democrats and republicans and then after pearl harbor, there's a convergence in how political elites were talking about that. again we see this reflected in the public. so here's a number of questions that were asked various measures of support for intervention. november of 1939 do you approve of changes to the neutrality
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law? you can see supporters of fdr, the blue line, the more attention you pay to politics, the more likely you are to support this position. among republicans, less likely. people who opposed fdr. same thing in this question, is it more important to help england or stay out of the war? republicans are flat. supporters of fdr are increasing in support. and we see this through mid-1941. you know, should we let germany keep land in exchange for peace? supporters of fdr, more informed, more engaged you are, the more likely you are to support that position. now, this change aftd after pea harbor, but we see it not just in the mean levels of support among republicans and democrats, we can see this in the convergence of opinion. now, one interesting thing about world war ii is the kinds of support questions john mentioned about the mistake, was it a mistake to get involved, so
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familiar to us, this question was never asked after u.s. entry into world war ii. the closest it came was in 20 years do you think other people will think it was a mistake to enter the war? which i think is in part a sign of the high level of support that there was for world war ii, that basically pollsters weren't asking the kinds of questions that we ask today because they didn't think that there would be differences. however, tlrm questions that sort of indirectly got at the position of unconditional surrender. so a bunch of times asked, you know, would you support making peace with the german army? sometimes this was asked would you support making peace with hitler? not surprisingly, if you ask making peace with the german army, more popular than making peace with hitler. but even if you ask about the german army, the mean levels of support are very high. but the key point i want to make here is this pattern of convergence we saw, where we get
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the same messages we can see so, after u.s. entry into pearl harbor, remember on this graph, we see a convergence of how political elites, how politicians are talking about that. we also see that in the mass public as well. and i think that that's really interesting. we don't see this more generally, so this is one of my favorite questions. is it more important to work with business or take care of people? because as we know these are divergent goals, right? it's one or the other. but if we take that premise, which maybe we don't want to do in this building, right, is you can see that -- you do see divergence. so it's not this great, big, happy family where everyone comes together and says we need to be -- you still see where you have divergent rhetoric, you still have divergent opinion. i think that's really important. let me skip this. so, you know, let me also address something that was in conclusion that was raised most directly by jason, but i think by john, as well, is what do i
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not beal diehl with in the book? so my book is about 320 pages, which my publisher said was too long as is. but it is a -- there are things i don't deal with. and i think the important thing is what determines the flow of elite discourse? i treat it as something we would call sort of exogenous to the system. it's just given. but the question that's important was how do elites decide on their positions? so we think about what are the conditions under which elites remain unified? what i say in my conclusion, that's nice, i can make arguments without evidence, is perhaps arguments have been made about the mass public. think about aversion to casualties, cost-benefit analysis, these make sense applied to political elites. this is their job. so, you know, as a scholar of public opinion, i know that most people most of the time don't pay attention to politics. you know, sort of people are rationally ignorant about politics. politicians are not rationally ignorant because it's their job to pay attention to politics, to
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make these kind of decisions so we could see this. there is some hint and markdown by scott gardner among others that show that variation in casualties during the vietnam war affected the position that senators took on the war, right, so there's something there. so, you know, we could say well, doesn't this just mean that it doesn't matter, right, if elites are doing this, isn't that good enough. and i think, though, that there's some important normative questions that this leaves aside. the thing about domestic and international politics, so danny and al have a book where they argue that democracies are hesitant to enter war, and they only become involved in wars that they are likely to win. so they show this observation and you show this throughout history. but the mechanism for that is really important. they say it's casualty sensitivity. they say that leaders worried that the mass public is going to react poorly to casualties. but if the mechanism is, in
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fact, through elites, right, if elites are the ones making these decisions, they have the agency and flexibility to interpret the meaning of ambiguous wartime events. so think about the surge, right pap lot more troops go in. is this a good thing, a bad thing? there's a lot more potential there for elite -- i wouldn't say elite manipulation but elite manipulation of that potential reality. it's how the war gets filtered through domestic politics that matters most. right? so if individuals are the ones -- individual citizens are the ones doing the cost-benefit analysis, if individual citizens are the ones looking at casualties, then democracy's on a good ground, right? if leaders choose policies that lead to bad results where the costs outweigh the benefit, the public will sanction them, the public will kick them out of office or at least say they don't support wars. however, if it's the elites that are making these calculations, we're in a much more fuzzy world, right, where it could be that the public is the one
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that's misled here. so i think that the stakes really are important. i think as jason said there is some po ten tential there for s future work. like i said, i have some other slide i can bring on but i just wanted to sort of lay out my position. looking forward to some more discussions about that. thanks a lot. [ applause ] >> all right. welcome, everybody. justin, thanks for the invitation to be here. great discussion already. start with a quiz. how many of you have ever written out a pro/con list? don't be shy. maybe you were trying to make a tough decision about take a new job or ask your girlfriend to the prom, which house to buy shgt that sort of thing. the idea behind the pro/con list is it's supposed to help you structure your thinking and make sure you've considered all the possibilities, the consequences, and that you make the best, most
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rational decision you can with the information at your disposal. but if you're like me, you write down this nice long list of pros and con, you stare at it far while, and eventually you realize it's absolutely no help at all. you might even wind up more confused than you started. we've all had that. the reason is not because you can't think of any pros and cons. off whole list of pros and cons. the reason you can't make up your mind is because you don't have a good reason, right, a good reason for option a or b. and this is obvious if you think about it because you never bother making pro/con lists when you already know what you think. people with good reasons don't make lists. when you're crazy in love with a girl or know it's time to move to the big city, you don't make a list to see if you're making a right decision. i think this is interesting when we're just talking about your love life, but it gets trickier when we start talking about foreign policy opinions. the first problem people face when trying to come up with an opinion about a war like iraq is
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just like your typical pro/con list, there are lot of potential reasons on both sides of the coin. but forming opinions about war is even more complicated but a beyond that all these reasons are difficult to compare. a lot of after l ts and oranges on the list. even worse, the information you need to assess each of these reasons is itself pretty complicated, often missing or kind of sketchy. so give than, the brainpower and the time it would take you to consider this pro/con list in all its glory is staggering. people actually get paid to do ta full-time. i think people might be willing to spend that much time thinking about who to marry but not about the war in iraq. nonetheless, as you have heard already today, at least a couple of people think that the public approach is the problem of coming up with an opinion about war in a manner more or less consistent with the pro/con list model. i won't quote jason and his colleagues from before, but, you know, essentially you way the pros and cons and say, okay, about a 50% chance, and you come
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up with an opinion. my co-author, andrew, in the audience with us today -- and i don't think that people actually sort of use this idealized mod toll come up with opinions, and instead we argue that people rely on one good reason to support wars and foreign policies. by this we mean that the acquisition and adoption of one good reason can serve to motivate and maintain an opinion in the face of potentially confounding considerations from all sorts of competing sources of information. it doesn't mean you might not agree with other reasons for something, but just that that single good reason is doing the heavy lifting, and it really doesn't need the others to help you figure out what to think. now, at first glance i hope that seems fairly provocative, but i think there's a good chance it also sounds a bit extreme. so at the risk of working against my own cause right up front, let me give you three reasons why we think one good reason is all you need. first, the most fundamental reason to suspect that people
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seize on one good reason is i think was mentioned briefly, humans are cognitive misers. we're always looking to cut corners when it comes to thinking hard. if you've head daniel's book "thinking fast and slow," you've had an excellent summary of a long line of research in this tradition. but in short, the search for and the maintenance of a single good reason is an awful lot easier on your brain than what we would be required for you to continually update your thinking on a whole wide range of factor, especially because all of them are interdependent and interconnected. second reason to suspect that one is the right number is to think that one resonates more powerfully with our affective psychology than more complex, logical inputs. you've probably heard the famous quotes attributed to stalin. when one man dies it's a tragedy, when thousands die, it's statistics. he was right on. research has shown people respond far more to have images of individual children in need,
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for example, than they do to statistical appeals. people are willing to spend as much to save a single whale as they are all the whales. more broadly it's in our nature to treat an extreme class of things differently from the way we treat other things. we remember them more easily, give them more weight in our thinking and are more easily roused to action when presented with a single compelling personal especially reason to do so. the third reason to suspect one is the magic numb interthe large body of evidence about the role predispositions play in shaping opinions and how often they seem to point people to one specific reason. people rely on party identify case, moral vous, religion, social identity, for opinion formation. how much more do people need to know than party i.d. to pick a president? how many people have religious beliefs that give them a single
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good reason for their opinions? because god said so. in many cases the very nature of people's beliefs in fact requires that just one reason matter. okay. if you're still with me, the next question would be what does this fact that people gravp state towards one good reason tell us about opinion formation in the case of something like the iraq war? to answer that, i think we first need to consider the fact that good reasons are not all created equal. some good reasons are what we might call just good enough for now while others are so strong they're essentially bulletproof. in addition, some reasons depend a lot on context while others don't depend on context at all. contextual good reasons depend on specific facts of a situation for their goodness. all right? a contextual good reason then can be strengthened or weakened or even abandoned as new information comes to light. for example, if i support the war in iraq because i was worry about the status of iraq's wmd program, my good reason probably
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got better after i saw colin powell's speech in early 2003, while later on it lost strength as we didn't uncover any evidence of iraqi wmd. and eventually it might have lost so much oomph that it stopped being a good reason entirely, leading me to potentially consider changing my opinion about the war all together. fundamental reasons, on the other hand, are rooted in moral views, partisan loyalty, group identity, religion, et cetera. unlike contextual reasons, these fundamental reasons are not contingent on objective and changing conditions. for example, we wouldn't expect a quake we are a religious belief in passism to support a war no matter what the conditions. this means that new information is unlikely to have much impact on these folks who have fundamental reasons. and so given all this, we expect sort of several things when we turn to thinking about public opinion and foreign policy and just to keep on the topic of iraq since we're there, the first thing we would expect is to see a patchwork quilt of good reasons both for and against the
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war thanks to the interplay of people's predispositions and context and information, all of which have been mentioned already and all of which matter a great deal. the bottom line is people can support something but for a very wide range of reasons. unlike i think discussions so far where we focused on wmd or maybe people talked about terrorism a lot with this topic. you know, my wife and i, we both bought the minivan, but we did it for two very different reasons. all right. she wanted the cup holders and i wanted to make her happy. two very different reasons. just like with minivans, both supporters and opponents of the war in iraq had a very wide range of reasons for doing so. so if you look, for example, at poll questions that gave people a chance to come up with their own reasons, open-ended poll questions, we see a wide variety of reasons given. so in an abc news poll on march 9th, 2003, just 13% said the most important reason to support the war was iraq's connection to terrorism and just 16% mentioned wmd, and opponents really didn't mention either of the above. all right? so the second thing is that
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because wars by their nature engage salient emotional, moral, and other deeply held values, we expect the number of people who will find a fundamental reason to support or oppose war is going to be relatively high. and given this, then, we expect to see a lot of consistency as opposed to change. consistency in the opinions that people hold throughout the war. we spend a lot of time trying to explain opinion ;39;e, but here i'm thinking more about consistency. and i think in the case of raublg we see this very careerly. in two of gallups often-repeated poll question, the mistake i general you favor or oppose the question, the lowest support it ever received was still 36% and the lowest opposition it ever had even at its peak of popularity was about 25%. and our interpretation of these i think is pretty straightforward. at the beginning of the war you had a hardcore group of mostly conservatives who had fundamental reasons to support the war and never wavered. on the other side, mostly
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liberals, many in adam's neighborhood apparently, who to poelzed the war for fundamental reasons at the outset and never wavered. i come from one of those places too. so i know it's true. and so that mean, right, when you think about it, that as many as 60% of americans never changed their mind once about what was going on is more than hillary clinton and john kerry could say. so, again, i find that surprising, thinking about this stuff a lot. i had never actually thought about it that way until recently. and the third thing is that we expect that the number of people holding a strong good reason, right, one that's really resistant to additional information, is going to grow over time as people encounter new information. as adam mentioned, many people sadly, nobody here, paid very little attention to foreign affairs. and so at the beginning of the war, a crisis, many people will have no reasons whatsoever to support or oppose a policy. but over time they're going to learn more and they'll be/oñ exposed to more potential good reasons. so people with no reasons to begin with will probably get one. people who have kind of eh good
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reasons will probably get better ones. and eventually, as one of john's charts showed, we eventually get to a point where every war of any length, war opinions stop changing. it doesn't matter what happens and it doesn't matter what people are saying. at some point we're done, right? and our argument is that this is a function of the fact that by that point people have pretty much all acquired a reason, a good reason, strong enough, that it's essentially permanent. in the case of iraq, it happened a fairly long time ago at this point, and we've seen little mini perturbations but not much to be interested in. so one good reason. could that really be possible? it probably sound like a stretch. but i'll conclude by arguing from authority and quote john's 1973 book "war, presidents, and public opinion" and point out that john actually is making an argument that fits very neatly in this notion of one good reason. john's argument that he's been making for a long time now mounting casualties, no matter
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what your good reason for supporting the war was originally, eventually you will replace that good reason with too many casualties as the single good reason to pose the war. let me read from his book briefly. "another way of looking at the trends is to see subgroups of the population dropping off sequentially from the war support as casualties mount. in the early stages, the support of those with considerable misgive sgs easily alienated. in later stage, the only advocates left are the rel live the hardened supporters whose conversion to opposition proves to be more difficult." this quote articulates in a nutshell -- thank you, john -- how i see this one good reason model operating. my only issue that i would really take with it is i don't think casualties are the only thing that you could have that would be another candidate, reason to turn against the war. a disastrous failure or potentially elite cues could also do some of that work. but casualties is a pretty darn good reason it seems to me. so, you know, to sort of wrap it up, we have a war.
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some people, turns out a majority possibly in this case, start off with a fundamental good reason to pose or support it and they ear done. that's it for them. other people start off with a good reason that has some kind of varying level of goodness. and some are weak enough they collapse on first blood, first sign of trouble. others it takes a great deal of information to make clear that initial reason was actually not so good anymore. and i'll end there in the interest of sticking to roughly 12 minutes. but before i sit down, i put it back out to you guys -- what is your one good reason? thank you. [ applause ] >> thanks a lot for that, trevor. if there are any graduate students in the audience or watching on c-span, you have just done what's called a lit review. you have covered a broad swath of the literature on the subject and know a lot about it now. we have about 20 minutes left, and i know everyone is practically pawing the ground to get at one another on the panel up here. but i think what i'll ask people to do is to take their responses
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and disputations and shoehorn them into answers to questions from the audience. we have a lot of smart people here who i know would like to pick your brains. so as you hear questions, use those as jumping-off points to claw at each other's faces or whatever suits your fancy. so we'll open it now to questions. we ask you to wait for a microphone, which will be brought around to you, to identify yourself and any affiliation that you may have, and to please ask a short, pointed question to a member of the panel. how about the gentleman in the blue short on the aisle right there. >> my name is joe guillen. i'm a retired soldier and retired civil servant. i just wonder if how the panel considers the impact of the transformation of the u.s. military from a draftee base to an all volunteer base.
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>> conscription on that. >> in terms of public opinion you're talking act? there's a debate about that. seems to me it doesn't make much difference. the fact that volunteers are dying in iraq, not draftees i don't think animates people any less. than if it were the other way around. so overall i don't think it seems to make much difference in terms of public response. americans are dying. they may have volunteered to go there. but no one says, well, they asked for it. no one says that. and so i don't really think it makes very much difference in terms of public support. >> anyone else for conscription? no. let's go to the other gentleman in the other blue shirt on the other aisle. >> i'm a graduate student here at the university of texas in public policy.
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i want to follow up on that question about conscription, because i've had the sense that might have been different in europe in decades past, and there are still a handful of european countries that conscript. across borders this is different. do we have the sense that sentiment for war in european countries is lower amongst those that have -- overseas adventures, let's put it that way, is lower in countries where there are large numbers of conscripts in the armed forces? >> i don't know of any mar particularly. if a swede dies, i think equally of age to whether he's a volunteer or draft ee or canadian or something like that. as far as i know, not the case. >> what about the gentleman in the back in the dark blazer. yes, you, just turned around. yes.
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>> robert shredder. we have another theory called the red cape theory, that every once in a while there's a media event that seems to elicit revenge or the feeling of revenge. we just saw one with the execution of a journalist, for example. but there's been other cases. keynote stories that appear in the press that seem to really provoke anger on the part of the american public. do any of you feel that there are those kind of incidents which trigger a change in public sentiment? >> yes. yes. it can be. it's very hard to predict what's going to happen, though. it frequently gets shrugged off. as i mention in looking at the support for the war in iraq, there were certain events like abu ghraib which caused a huge flurry and so forth and did
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cause opinion to change but then it sort of went back to where it was before. that was good news from the standpoint of supporting the war that seemed to go quite well in iraq. peopleiraq. people support the war a bit more but soon it was back down. frequently they're not game changers. they tend to be blips. there are some events like 9/11 and pearl harbor are anything but blips and the opinion on 9/11 continues to resonate strongly as did pearl harbor did even after the war. >> in addition, another person who's not on this panel who was written a lot about this, peter leanerman, has argued that fundamentally support for war is based on restrict tifness who punishing people who deserve to be punished for their acts.
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it's fairly consistent with the big red letters of saddam as a bad guy that trevor had in his lot. >> what about the gentleman here in the front, in the nonblue shirt. >> good afternoon. mart martin molten. for the panel and mr. miller, what do you think of judge hellersteen's opinion about the release of the abu graib photos and whether it was done to protect people overseas or affect public opinion at all? >> you mean the motivations of why the photos were released? the anti-war people, this fed right into their argument about the absurdity of the war. we all remember them, they're vivid and the pictures were horrible, et cetera, et cetera. but the data basically showed
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that it temporarily through the war -- it was a game changer in the sense it caused people to think less well of the war and it continued down from there and basically bounced back up. events like that, even horrible ones might be there. in the case of the journalist who was just killed, you can consider that to be fairly minor given the horrificness of this war so one horrible thing happened to one single person but it can cause people to really change their mind in some cases. >> the gentleman in the front. >> i'm burt weiss. i'm a pro bono advocate but i've wrestled with these issues for 60 years in this town. it's an excellent panel,
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starting on working with mcnamara in vietnam, working with congress and more recently working with kato trying to get people out of afghanistan. there was some discussion about how people regard the wars afterwards or might react afterwards. you wanted to ask your reaction to the following. i've been at countless discussions, strategy sessions of liberals about getting out of afghanistan, who keep emphasizing that they have to explain to congress that the public opinions poll shows the majority wants to get out. i try to explain to them that the people in congress read the same newspapers, but know that if they do get out, if we do get out and things go south, an opponent can run against them in having voted in a way that we lost the war.
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in terms of your research, vis-a-vis how congress reacts to public opinion, i want to know what your thoughts are. >> i think it's sort of my last point, basically they're wrong. it is not going to be that there's going to be a who lost iraq syndrome. there's not going to be a rising of the mccarthy. it's not that they're going t e be pilloried over this. they were forgetting about iraq as fast as they could, as they stopped thinking about vietnam. so i think that they're wrong. furthermore, there's a very good reputation. you say you lost iraq and them the only way so save iraq is to send the troops back in. people don't want to do that.
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in other words, the administration has been using this a little bit with some of the issues, including the issue about iran, bombing iran. do you really want to get into a war with iran. that has worked to their benefit in terms of dampening of opposition. >> i want to jump in. that's a very good point of this very of how do politicians decide the positions to take. there's been some very good work done in international relations on this question of lat ent opinion, think about politicians wondering not about opinion today but opinion come the next election. so if i do this, what is the public going to do. there's a person, elizabeth saunders who's at george washington who has done some really, really interesting work in the context of vietnam. typically this audience cost theory has been applied to the public. the politicians don't want to
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back down because they're worried about how the public is going to react. saunders has done some really interesting work in the context of vietnam showing that johnson wasn't worried about the public. he was worried about politicians, opposition within the democratic party, their reactions. but the fundamental issue here is that politicians do worry about reactions, be it the8q
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what is opinion going to look like in sixñp#ó months, a year now if i take these particular actions. >> can i add one thing? >> please. >> one point that should be brought up, however, is the situation in syria last summer. the elites, all of them, were in favor of bombing syria because of the chemical attack. they went home and they found out that their followers were trying to say are you trying to get us into another stupid war in the middle east. that's had a powerful impact. everybody now is no longer willing to talk about boots on the ground, even john mccain. unfortunately because of public opinion we can't do this. sometimes you can have a very strong restraining effect. in this case it's people, both republicans and democrats, going against their main party. when obama said he was going to bomb them, the party leaders on both sides in the congress said go ahead, essentially.
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at least at the top there was anonymity among the elites and they found that the people at the bottom were not up to that. to a degree that's happened in the iraq war. what's happened is that in many respects this is the same as adam saying the other way around. it's not that the elite qs are influencing the people but the people are influencing the elite qs. what happened in 2004 was that the -- when they tried -- there was a huge movement to try to get out of the war in iraq burgeoning out of the democratic party and the democratic party leaders who had voted for the war didn't really want to talk about it. so with the movement toward howard dean and john kerry as a stocking horse for an anti-war movement, the main activists and the rank and file of that party were manipulating the leaders.
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that kept going on throughout the whole decade. finally the anti-war movement got the guy they wanted, barack obama. turned out it didn't work out so well from their standpoint but at least they got the only politician with prominence who would oppose the war in iraq from the white house. >> i wonder if adam's response would be that we see that barack obama wants to bomb syria and that's enough for them to know that it's a bad idea. right there, yes, you right there. >> i find it very difficult to believe that public opinion shapes elites' decisions to go to war simply on the basis that congress hasn't officially declared war since i think it's world war ii.
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there's increasing trend to the president unilaterally getting us into war, so the premise of public opinion shaping something like war, which should be based on strategy, not on opinion, in my opinion, it's just a little bit hard to believe. so if you could address that and also we've seen one of the speakers mentioned circumstantial reasons being put forward and used by the public to say, oh, yes, i support this or i don't support this. if anyone could comment on the trend, the creation potentially fabrication of circumstantial reasons to get into a conflict, n.a.t.o. versus russia.
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>> i think this races a couple points, should the politicians fear what the. thinks and can the president pound the table hard enough that he gets his folks to fall into line. i'll give it to you to jump off from there. >> a few points on that. one is that we are seeing it now, every politician is saying we can't have boots on the ground. public opinion won't let us do that, et cetera, so they do feel constrained, at least that's what they say. it is the case that the president can do it anyway. he could have bombed in syria and waited to see what happened later and the fear was it would be negative to him. in terms of the arguments they use, politicians are constantly trying to come up with arguments to make you like them. so kwently they say how about they pole to do it. saddam will get wmd so we'll get that argument. we won't push the argument about jobs because it doesn't pole. they're trying to manipulate and come up with the arguments that
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can work best for their side. in other words, to a considerable degree, their response from the public is influencing what they're doing. and they're doing it all the time. they're always going in front of an audience and saying, well, i'm against immigration. people say yeah and then they go on it. they say i'm in favor of doing something with the drug issue. sometimes they get a big reaction and then they follow it. so the question is who's manipulating whom. they're putting these things on the table just like the new coke and seeing if anybody buys it. if no one buys it, then they go on to something else. >> i'll just say, too, that having written some stuff about how dangerous presidents are in terms of inflating threats by manufacturing reasons essentially, i think iraq obviously got a lot of people worried about how easy it might be for a president just to lie about intelligence or something like that. but i think the chart that john
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showed earlier that charts public opinion before 2003 and 2002, bush tried an awful lot of stuff to convince you to go to war happily and he failed miserably for the most part in doing that. but that doesn't mean presidents aren't dangerous. it means that their words aren't they dangerous i think. it's their actions that are dangerous in terms of increasing public support for war. if we look back at the gulf war and the iraq war, the big bump in the opinion is not when the president says let's go to war. it's when he goes to war. when you give someone an ultimatum, those things have the power to move opinion. words as john pointed out, we're constantly battling back and forth. auf i polarized mind-set and it's hard for presidents to say anything to convince the team to support something. when they do stuff that engages u.s. troops, then the story is they different. >> we'll take another question.
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>> bush barely survived the first term and barely won that election. if he hadn't done the iraq war he would have slammed through that easily because of the huge impact favorable to him that came out with 9/11. and it destroyed tony blair. >> i was curious what your respective studies of public opinion, how they've informed your views of democracy and how functional it is. i'm curious to hear from any and all of you on that. >> jason, why don't you start us off. >> that's a simple question, in the three minutes we have left. my view that -- it's true that lots of citizens don't pay super
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close attention to politics. i don't think anybody on this panel would dispute that. and that there are some decisions that are probably particularly bad like the iraq war that democracy is fairly responsive. we don't have lots and lots of really, really bad decisions. there are lots of wars that maybe we could have gotten into that we didn't, and most, sadly not all but most of the wars that we have gotten into have gone reasonably well and we've achieved reasonable aims out of them. maybe i'm so polly anish about, yeah, democracy. but i don't have a sort of horrible, the sky is falling dim view that we should just give up on democracy and let's just
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trust our elite overlords. >> john, you don't miss new coke, do you? >> no. >> for the record, new coke actually wins in blind taste tests. >> that's why they put it out there. basically i learned democracy is a really crappy form of government. it just happens to be better than the alternatives and certainly the government i'd like to leave under. it's basically self-correcting clumpsly sometimes as jason says. it's fun and exciting and interesting. it is appalling that there are so many people out there that disagree with me. i can't conceive of why that should be the case, but i've learned to live with it. some of them at least have learned to live with me. >> i think we may have a consensus on this point. trevor you want to take it and pass it down? >> i have a yin yang answer to
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that which is i'm not full on ra ra as jason but i think democracy works reasonably well in terms of the opinion of foreign policy connection, but the yang side is that i don't think it's because we're very smart or good at reasoning through these things. i think instead we're lucky that we have two political parties that enjoy roughly equal support from both sides of the public and so when we fight about things we polarize, we don't come to agreement over iraq or anything else important and instead we compromise. what that does is it keeps us from doing really extreme stupid stuff very often. >> to add a dimmer note is that -- i guess it can get really dim. i'm not going to get really dim. but i spent the last 20 years studying public opinion. when i teach my classes i say two things that i know, most of
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the people most of the time don't pay attention to politics and secondly people will answer any question that you give them on a survey. together that can be very dangerous. if people don't think hard about a question, i don't think that people -- i guess where i disagree is that a strongly reject the cost benefit framework that people can muddle through politics as best they can and the slightly happier side of that is that if people are given good material to work with, if they take use from politicians who have thought hard about an issue and take reason-considered positions, if they use other cues to guide them -- in the book i talk about ethnic politics but there are other reasons people use about politics is that people can do well there. the story there is that people's decisions are only as good as their politicians that they
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listen to. if we're going to fault democracy, it's not the mass public. it's politicians that we need to talk about. >> i always like to close events on an anti-elite note so thank you for that. this is actually an odd time for a forum. it's a little late for lunch but i'm irish so it's not too early for a glass of wine. i hope you'll join us upstairs for wine and cheese and thank the panel for what i think was a terrific forum. thank you guys. in about 20 minutes remarks
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from attorney general eric holder on the 50th anniversary of the civil rights act will be talking to an audience of the hispanic bar association, you'll be able to watch that live on c-span. tomorrow former president's bill clinton and george w. bush launch the presidential leadership scholars program which folks on approaches to leadership including philosophy styles and practices. they're in partnership between the presidential centers of bush, clinton, george h.w. bush and lyndon johnson, that's 8:30 on saturday an c-span. on saturday bill and hillary clinton will host the 37th annual steak fry. senator harken recently sat down with us to discuss the steak fry and how the tradition got
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started. >> well, i put in a request to hillary. i spoke with her personally sometimes ago. she was getting ready to do here book tour. she was just finishing her book and was getting ready to go on her book tour and she said i just don't know how that's going to transpire but i'd really like xc do it, can you give meu:md. schedule is going to be like. i said sure. then i saw bill in california. i was at a healthcare event in california, and i saw bill clinton there. and of course we started co miss rating about this and that. ijég remember as she wassi -- signing some books. i told him i invited hillary to come out and speak at my steak fry. as he turned to walk away i she had you should come, too. you're both good friends of ruth
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and mine. that would be great. think about that. he said, i will. and they did. it's just a great honor to have them both out. they've been good friends of ours for all these years. bill and hillary have provided i think great leadership for our /j)qr) respective ways. committee in the senate under ted kennedy with hillary clinton all the time she was in the senate, so we had great working relationships in the senate. i think she did an outstanding job as our secretary of state. in fact, as i've traveled around the world the last few years, it is just amazing how the stature that hillary clinton has globally among women and girls all over the globe. she has kind of lit a fire among women and girls in different countries around the world and they hold her in very, very high
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esteem. >> a quick reminder that you can see senator harken's final steak fry at 3:30 p.m. on c-span. we will also take your facebook comments and tweets. with live coverage of the u.s. house on c-span and the senate on c-span 2. here on c-span 3 we compliment that coverage by showing you the most relevant congressional hearings and public affairs events. then on weekends c-span 3 is the home to american history tv with programs that tell our nation's story, including six unique series, the civil war's 150th anniversary, visiting battle fields and key events. american artifacts, touring museums and historic sites to discover what act facts reveal about america's past. the best known american history writers, the presidency, looking at the policies and legacies of our nation's commanders in chief. and our new series, real america
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featuring archival government and educational films from the 1930s, through the 1970s, c-span three funded by your local cable and satellite provider. follow us on twitter. last month two former technology strategists discussed how digital innovation has changed the way campaigns are run and what we can expect in the future. held at george washington university, this is about 90 minutes. >> good afternoon, everybody. i'm mark kennedy, the director of the graduate school here at george washington university, and we welcome everyone here from george washington university to our panel on digital complaints, 2012 and beyond.
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we give a special welcome to our c-span audience that's joining us. we also give a special welcome to those from the american political science association that have come to all day seminars here in advance of their conference study tomorrow. at the graduate school of political management, we are very pleased that one of george washington's trustees, mark shenkman who is with us here today has funded a series of research an digital campaigning. as we've all seen, the world in all aspects of our life is going more digital and we want to make sure that our students are at the forefront of understanding how you apply big data for political success. so today's seminar is very timely. i'm very pleased to be collaborating with this with the school of media and public affairs and frank saysna will be leading the conversation here.
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frank has a great background, a multi-media platform to make sure that we're highlighting the best innovations in sustainability and he is an emmy award winning journalist prior to being the leader of the school of s and pa, he was with cnn and ap for 21 years. please welcome to the podium, frank sessna. >> thank you, mark. good day, everybody. welcome to george washington university and the jack morton auditorium and the school of media and public affairs. we like to say we are the cross roads of the school of media and public affairs for where media and politics, communication, information meet, collide, explode, whatever verb you choose, they do it here and we're very pleased and very honored to be a part of this event today. i want to thank you again for
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joining us at this digital campaigning 2012 and beyond discussion. this is the first of our fall events. we hope that you will join us for subsequent events as well. we have other ones upcoming on september 9th hosting a panel of journalists we'll be discussing covering the mid-term elections. this will include professionals, journalists from roll call, mcclatchy, meet the press, "washington post," all of them who just and purely coincidently happen to be alumni of the george washington university. please join us for that. you wouldn't want to miss that. we heard mark kennedy thank mark shenkman and i join him in thanking him. i would also like to thank paul wilson whose contribution helped make it possible to host the absa preconference which many of you attended today. paul is a member of our national
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counsel advisory board for media and public affairs. he's the founder of wilson grand communications and we thank him for all of his service to the school of media and public affairs. i'd also like to do a shoutout to my colleagues, steve livingston and dave carp who are co-chairs of this year's absa preconference, so thank you to you both. i also want to congratulate one other kcolleague, professor sylvia wasteboard who is named the journal of communication. chief of the international journal of press and politics and his successor, rastpv must musc nielsen is with us today. please join me in congratulate is them. now we'll go online. we'll go digital.
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i'd like to introduce our two guests today, and i'd like to ask them to come out as i do so. zach moffit is the co-founder of an advertising agency that has served over 220 campaigns and organizations. please have your seat. he was the 2011 digital director of mitt romney for president where he managed the campaign's digital strategy and will have a great deal to tell us about that. i would like to welcome michael slabe. he's the managing partner of a newv!r company helping to solve creative capital. i like that. in addition, he was the chief integration and innovation officer in 2012, obama for
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america, where he insured the implementation of technology across the campaign. so it would seem we have the twó campaigns here, and i'm going to go and take my seat in the middle. welcome to you both. i explained in addition to our c-span audience we have a number of students, graduate and otherwise who are here and faculty. so be very targeted in your comments. i want to start broad and then we'll come down and compare your campaigns. i know you'll have complete agreement on all things, looking back. what three things would each of you say are the most significant game changers or strategy changers in this online world in
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your worlds of campaign. you want to go first? >> sure. i think the yu bikty of social media has changed the way we communicate, the way citizens communicate with governments and i just think the fundamental nature of the communication landscape is different than it's been in the past. we have a tendency to talk about social media through the lens of a network, very naturally because we see them as social networks, facebook has promoted this concept very heavily. i think we've advance today a stage where all communications functions like a graph where we are nodes in a graph and interconnected in all kinds of ways, whether we are individuals, we are campaigns, we are companies, we are media companies and our ability to understand the interrelationships and the power and the value of strategic indirect communication is as important as the value of
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strategic direct communication. >> what's strategic direct and indirect? >> direct communication is what i say to you. indirect communication is what you hear about me from someone else. that can be done haphazardly at random which it will be done whether you like it or not, or it can be something that's part of how we try and build efforts around helping people engage with each other and the power of horror to know zal communication as one of the fundamental communications in the way media functions. media used to be high arcual. publishers reached an audience and everybody's roles in that system were fixed which is sort of boring and unexciting. >> i didn't think it was boring and unexciting when i was doing it. >> it's a little more complicated now. yu bikty of social media. cloud computing has changed what's possible in terms of our ability to build and manage our
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infrastructure. we talk a lot about the differences between our campaigns and the differences between our campaigns in 2012 relative to the application of technology versus the development of technology which is a totally different bag of cats. but the rise of ease and accessibility of cloud communication can really change things. >> one more. >> i have to do one more? >> no. those two were good. no, i think the last one that i would say is still really important goes to the question we were having when we were back stage which is the modern political campaign hasn't changed that much since 1840 or 1896. we were having a political debate. but the idea of engagement and communication and the durability of the strategic value of empowering people to drive an organization forward is completely independent of digital tools, social media,
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e-mail, facebook, twitter, whatever is going to be new next week, and that digital is a force multiplier for things like campaign and organization of any type needs to do well. it is not -- we don't -- because we have developed digital tools we don't now have digital outcomes and goals associated with the organization. we're still trying to win votes. that's something that's easily overlooked. >> zach, what are your top three? >> michael is right. the premise for 2012 for us is we thought digital in 2008 had been a list building and fundraising exercise at scale. it did a lot of other things but that was the core competency at a digital level. a lot of things were alluded to but the audience weren't there via facebook or twitter to go beyond that. in 2012 it was the first campaign where you would have people who would vote for you but never went to your website but they interacted on facebook or twitter or maybe e-mail but
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never having gone directly to your site. so you were trying to think about what does that experience look like and as a result that plays into the things that have changed the most, redefining your budget where you put data and digital at the center and fund as a result. i think the secondary component is actually even though we've become more advanced in technology, the role of a human is so much more advanced than ever before, like the staffing. when i look at the obama campaign i was never very jealous of the technology. i was always the vision, the ability to hire so many staff and to fund so many staff and to have that process is something that was really unique to what 2012 showed us. when we look post 2012, some of the things that are being missed, lean and mean does not mean lean and mean. it means we're not doing stuff. we're going to cut corners and hope in five weeks that 1,000 gross ratings points get me over the line. i think that process has
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shifted. if anything the role of social media is more powerful at the local level and yet it's all talked about at the presidential level. there are all these different elements to go through. i think budget, staffing as it goes through and i think how you leverage technology. i think this belief that democrats are ahead or republicans are ahead and this thing flips over 8 years and normally someone in power has a nice effect on that. anymore. i think it's the ability to takç technology and leverage it and are you building for yourself or trying to glue pieces together. i think that will always be the challenge for campaigns as they move forward. >> who is in power? the candidate, the campaign, the consultants, god forbid the public? >> hopefully in some ways it's all of the above. i think the capacity -- as zach said the local smaller races, smaller and challenger campaigns to reach audiences that you may never have been able to reach without tools like this, operate
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at scale, some of the things that we were able to do that sort of shouldn't scale, it's too personal, it's too much about one to one communication, sort of shouldn't be able the work at the scale that we were able to do except for the capacity to engage and drive a ladder of engagement via the internet. that's the only way you end up with 2.2 million active volunteers doing the exact same thing a volunteer has always been doing in a political campaign. i think more opportunities to engage and listen and get more information in more places is good for voters and citizens. i think the transparency and the discipline that's required of candidates is good for them as candidates. i think any time there's something new, consultants are going to benefit and find a way, but that's part of the system, too. >> i agree. i think that the challenges are different. digital has allowed the apparatus of the campaign to be
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choken up. there's a lot of younger generation of people to be involved earlier and had their voices heard. i think that probably three presidents before michael and i it would have been a whole different role in a campaign. it just wouldn't have been a possibility. so our experience, there's no such thing when someone says they're a social media expert. it just means they really like it. there are some things that make sense relative to the brand or the client or the campaign, but there is just kind of like the separation that this constantly evolving and just when you think you've got your hands around it it continues to evolve and it's no longer in this lock box of this is the way it has to be. i think that's empowering and presidential campaigns if you didn't have social media ythe role of technology would be the same 8 to 12 states and people wouldn't get to participate. it's kind of like extended the ability for people to participate. >> it hasn't changed where the candidate goes. >> no but it allows them to have -- in some ways in brands
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it's kind of about deals, you get these deals. with social i think it's about access, a whole other side that would have been kept away from you. these videos, i don't think that candidates are ready to let go but it does bring more people into it. it definitely hasn't changed physically where they're going right now, though it has changed -- i think the obama campaign in '08 showed it forces you not to go to certain places for fundraisers. it opened up your calendar which was a huge opportunity. the opportunity of doing something else is one of the few things people take into consideration. >> it does fundamentally change the role and the purpose. i want to talk about 2012 and comparisons but before we do that i want to mention to the audience that we'll turn to your questions in a few minutes, so start preparing those. before we go to 2012, you heard mark here introduce the event, a former member of congress. if he were to come to you today and sit down and say, what is it
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going to take and what is the big innovation, the big change that you are going to bring to me, if i'm going to run again because he wants to go back to that great place called capitol hill, what would you tell him he needs to do to raise money and win as a congressional candidate -- we're back at the local level now -- using these remarkable new tools? >> you have to invest in the front end and have to actually be committed to engaging with the community and to say that you're going to build tools that people can use. >> what does that mean? >> actually taking the time that you are going to invest in putting people into your e-mail list and actually have a conversation with them. congressional campaigns still get away with television and media. they're forcing this one-way dialogue. the first thing is what level of commitment are we going to make to having an actual conversation with our stitch went. are we going to feel comfortable
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with you on social media or are you actually going to participate. until you know the candidate's willingness to be an active participant in this process it's very hard to build that out. >> what are some examples where that approach has been effective and actually moved voters or dollars? >> if people can -- it moves dollars. social media and fundraising as a whole, that's why it started there. it's so easy to track that. you can see the conversion as you're going through the process. the use of social media. i look at marco rubio after the 2013 state of the union when he drank the water bottle. that's a specific moment but a generational model. if he was an older candidate, no one would have talked about it. it completely changes the conversation in a matter of seconds. something that social media allowed him to do and change the conversation. ann romney had that moment with
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us when hillary rosen's comment occurred in 2012 and she was able to cut through the clutter. i can promise you having being there that was not where we started the communication. it was the last thing we did but it changed the entire conversation. that's where social media as leveled the playing field and allowed people to have followup conversation. >> probably wouldn't you coming to you actually. >> that's okay. what zach said about investing early is really important and institutionalizing the values of engagement and relationship building as an essential part of the campaign so that digital becomes -- i used this phrase before but it becomes a force multiplier for the things you're trying to do relative to building community and empowering people to participate in a process. that means that digital is going to drive whatever rules are present in the campaign.
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the tools that we use and zach uses are the same. i always think it's sort of funny. it's not like we invented fusion and didn't share. we're using them differently and applying them differently. the constraints around our campaigns were very different in 2012 so how restaffed, budgeted, the time we had to plan was a wild advantage for us that i think gets overlooked a lot. in terms of coming to us and where you start, you start early with building relationships and you have to start with a premise that you are willing and interested in engaging in sort of a humble way as a participant in a process with others. >> are you suggesting that a politician is going to engage in a humble way? >> yes, if they're going to do it well. i think we continue to see traditional candidates thinking in traditional communications
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terms one way, how can we use these tools to broadcast to another audience. >> you think something fundamental has changed? >> these are not broadcast tools. if you use them as broadcast tools they will be only marginally effective. if you're using them as a mechanism for communication building relationships, they can become something greater. if you're interested in using facebook as another version of the channel 7 news it's going to through it really fast. >> we almost tell them we will help them set up their facebook page so it's tagged the right way and has the right images but after that we say we can't respond for you. the worst thing that will happen is you respond and they go to the supermarket and they talk to a person and they say i have no idea what you're talking about. if you're running for let's say recorder of x county, you're talking 5,000 votes each way, plus or minus 300 votes.
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you only need 15 volunteers, 30 volunteers to make a huge difference and that's what the tools have done. they have leveled. what peopleññ like michael and myself can do is help you eliminate your wasted time. what we do is learn from our mistakes and hopefully we can help you take the most of your time and be as efficient as possible, but at a certain point if we're the ones having a conversations that will come through quickly and as soon as that comes through you're in a very tough spot. >> what zach said before, the investment that's required is largely human, that if you're going to participate in these conversations and be engaged and we're using these tools and these networks, it's a huge commitment of time and energy. you need to be prepared to engage and respond in a dialogue. you need to be prepared to create content on a constant basis. that is a -- people have a tendency to say it's the internet, it's free, it's social media, it's free. using the tools is free.
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using them well is a talent and means a team that you are going to staff and resource appropriately to do this well and maintaining relationships with millions of people at a national level means a big team. >> is that a dramatic departure for candidates in the way they're going to engage through a campaign, or is it merely an evolution? retail politics always has been about a conversation if you're going to do well. if you knock on someone's door and you give a stump speech, they're not going to stand there with you for very long. is it merely transferring what's been done anyway or is there something fundamental here? >> being able to do -- essentially you're talking about being able to do retail politics at a distance. instead of talking to a voter you can talk to millions of voters through a team, through platforms, that you are doing some of those same person to person and one to one relationship building scale. i do think one. things that it does fundamentally change is pace.
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the requirement of producing content in a real time engagement and real time response we talked a lot about -- there's a phrase of rapid response in politics and rapid response is too slow. real time response is this fundamental nature of twitter conversations an engaging with the press and is something that has to approximate real time to be effective is a genuine shift. >> should candidates tweet? >> yeah. they have to. i think you have to but i think you have to be careful that there's risk reward and you have to be cognizant of that. i wouldn't tweet late at night when you're angry. when people are mean at you at twitter that's when you wand to respond. you get horrible trollers out there. i think it's hard for people to take that separation. same with athletes, they don't treat them like people. it's hard because you get caught up.
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>> let's go to 2012 where you both were firmly rooted and where you both helped redefine this whole landscape. zach, i'm going to start with you and with thanks to my colleague dave carp for suggesting this question we'll go right to the fun stuff which is orca, which is the system that didn't work so well. a little background for the audience, this was a mobile optimized web application that was meant to be used as a get out the vote vice. it was supposed to enable volunteers at polling stations, right, around the country to be able to report who turned out and who didn't and target accordingly. your candidate, mitt romney at one point said it would provide an unprecedented advantage which it did not do because it did not work. why? >> i will take this in a couple pieces. the challenges for us at the very beginning and this is an example of how campaigns are structured. as the digital director we had no involvement in the process. >> you wash your hands. >> not wash your hands of it.
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this is what happens and this is where i think the professionism of kpaps are going. it was built out of the political shop. something at the state level through the primary process had worked effectively. i don't think that sometimes even people on campaigns understand what it's like to scale against a presidential model in the general. what you saw there was the short comings of professional project managers and technical managers to run a process. everyone believed it was going to work as it went through. i think that the concept really was not just to turn people out which was a big part of it, that was to let us know the efficiency. if we have 100 people vote and we know who 40 of them are we can take our resources and talk to the 60 who haven't voted. no one really knows what time of day people vote, if you're a morning voter or afternoon voter. that was data dependent that would have had the most valuable because that would go into the models of how you turn people out. the challenge became when you start to scale it hit this breaking point very quickly across the board. it is one of those huge frustrations that you have because i think so many of the campaign members said this is going to be a huge tool.
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no one goes into election day not believing, one, they're going to win and the tool that they have is going to be amazing. i would use that was the back drop. that was the challenge for us. campaigns have to undertake these audacious tasks because that's what they want to do to get that last little bit. the challenge unfairly had orca work perfectly it would have told is that we lost sooner. unfortunately, what i think it's done is allowed people who want to be frustrated with the process to be able to point to a culprit. that was always the take away and that's why i felt strongly even though it wasn't a project that we undertook, i wanted people to understand, they did collect 15 million pieces of data. the problem was it did not do what we hoped it would do. i think this is really -- i hope it never happens again that people don't understaff and underresource which is such an important task.
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>> there are people in the conservative side of things who say that this technology and this focus on technology somehow actually depressed the vote. >> i think that people -- that's their choice. i do not fundamental believe in that at all. i don't know how it would depress the vote and turn out less people. if that was the case, michael can talk to it probably better than i could, but then should barack obama have won by more in 2008? >> there's almost no way that's true. just for what it's worth. zach and i were talking about this at lunch. this also reveals just how hard it is to build technology at scale inside an organization that's as messy and moves as fast as a political campaign and that the point zach is making about the right people to build the right kinds of things is really important. the technology seems to accessible to us, but creating it is actually really, really difficult. there's a very big difference between using and consuming and
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applying technology and building and creating technology. >> now that i've asked him what didn't go right in his campaign, what didn't go right in yours? >> this didn't go right for us in 2008. we had the exact same system, built differently. the parallels in this external realities of our campaign and their campaign were similar. no time to plan, very little time to prepare for the general election. it ended up having -- we ended up in '08 having huge resources but very late when building things gets risky. we built a system on election day to help use mobile phones to track who had voted early in the day so we could repurpose resources and it crashed miserably early in the day and no one has ever heard of it because we won. it's almost -- it's four years
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later. the technology they built was undoubtedly better than what we built because it moves forward but they both failed because it's hard to build things to scale at that pace in that kind of system and i think the reality that what we had in 2012 was we had a massive internal engineering operation to create and build our own technology. we also had a year to build and plan without an opponent. we had time to staff really early. we hired in the technology group very, very early in the campaign. we started spending money on engineers and product managers who weren't from politics. >> how many did you hire? >> the technical groups that led was 125 people in headquarters. >> and you brought them in when? >> harper, our cto, joined us in march, the 1st of april i think,
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just after the announcement. we hired as early as we could. on top of the technical infrastructure is a whole other layer of content and strategy and engagement talent in the digital team that's another 175. so we're talking about 300 people, almost half of headquarters dedicated to this. the proportion, the raw numbers are not the important part. the proportion of commitment to this as a valuable strategic element and as an element that's going to drive all of the things the campaign needs to do. the campaign needs to deliver messages, mobilize people and raise money. digital becomes a part of all of those things. you don't have money, mobilization and digital goals. >> organizationally, this is baked into the foundation. >> it is a layer that empowers the rest of the organization. >> is that how you were organized? >> no but i think because of the structured nature, the protracted primary, that's the
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problem. i think that you would always be -- it would be the greatest thing for a campaign to have a michael across the board, to always have the cto, person sitting at the table from day one. when you try to do is figure out how do we get these pieces to work together as seamlessly as possible. i think that's just difference between a challenger versus incouple bansy. those numbers, when rick santorum dropped out, our digital department in total was 14 people. our entire campaign was 87. now, i would argue and i have often that republicans underinvest in human capital. i think that that is the detriment of our campaigns. i hope everyone in 2016 that they want to spend more on staff. the challenge is that's easy to say until resources bottom finite. we made it through a primary. our model was going to every
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state down 8 points, send 2,000 points of television and win every state by ten points. it was rinse and repeat and we did it again and again. to the point that we had to probably cut back on staff. that worked fine when we were communicating with other people who had limited resources. that doesn't work against the president of the united states. when they have hundreds of millions of dollars it's not the greatest tool. you made it through the primary but we're looking up and seeing an incumbent. they weren't meant to make sympathy for us and i felt no sympathy for kerry. for us, we became the nominee and we had five months. you say, okay, we can undertake six major projects. what are those six and how will each one come to fruition.
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you have a curve where i have lots of time, no money. suddenly i have lots of money and no time. once that changes, you're gone. the next thing you know you have conventions, debates and then you're electing. the whole process -- it's hard for people from the outside. i'm sure people who are mad at orca are mad at facebook when it goes down. they understand all the architecture of how facebook works. >> you have great sympathy for >> exactly. >> what's the biggest threat to your perceived or technological advantage as democrats now? >> technology doesn't stand still well. the continued investment in moving technology forward and continuing to build new products, new platforms, continuing to invest institutionally in the creation and advancement of technology and the training of a new body of talent.
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we both talked a lot about the need for talent and staffing. they've got to learn somewhere and they're going to learn from those of us who have done this before and there aren't that many of us so we need to do a good job of sustaining and building talent inside the party so that we can continue to -- that we don't have this incredibly tight ladder where there's talent at the top and then no one else. there are hundreds of thousands of elected officials. and continued investment in this is really, really important. there is a lot of the talent and technology inside the democratic party lives in startups and venders that we use. same is true on the other side. there are pluses and minuses to this is the build or buy question for organizations and institutions is important and complicated. but in either case, this is us continuing to invest in the advancement of technology, that
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we haven't solved the problem. we have defined a solution to the sort of ongoing application of technology to what we're trying to do and that means continuing to do it on a regular basis. >> zach, during your campaign you said, we buy advertising for people who don't watch tv anymore. what did you mean? >> one of the things that my company did prior to going in is we spend a lot of time looking for people who we define as off the grid. >> one in three voters -- >> one in three voters did not watch live tv over the past week except sports. >> yes. that number has remained constant. it's pretty consistent. we've seen this huge explosion that we just did this study with google this year. that is the first time that screen agnostics, people don't
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mind where they watch it is now over 50%. we got that 17% of the populatipo population are linear but 54% are in this middle around. so their lives are fragmented. really, they have dvr and the only time they see ads is during sports. it's the one thing you really want to know what's going on. people are off the grid who are not buying -- they are not buying the cable box. that's a growing number of people. it's growing in democrat graph ins -- 35-plus is the fastest growing area. our argument was, if you want to go to election day one-third of the vote sers is 1.2 million. it's 160,000 or less in the last four presidential cycles. do you want to go to the polls believing that one in three people have not seen your tv messaging? we're spending as if there's three channels and everyone is
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watching it all the time. we're pretending it's the 1980s. i believe that a lot of the tv buyers, that's how they see the world because it pushes through for polling. the question is, we know the number to move polling. we don't know the number to win elections. that's the challenge we're going through. we know how much television will allow you to move the polls. we don't know what is the right media mix to allow you to win. >> what is the right mecix? >> everyone wants to think there's one method. they should each have a different budget. i got budget of 10% of a television budget. but i should have got less money in northern florida where there were more senior watching television and more in northern virginia where i'm trying to get a different demographic. litt by district or state they should
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have different budgets. you have to be willing to commit and to have the type of staffing you have to make that. the single most impressive thing was obama did was buying television efficiently and take into consideration waste and to factor that into the decision making process. that's something that post election is where i spent a lot of my time focusing on that. it gets the least amount of time talked about. it's scary as it comes to resources. >> with the resources you have, where did you buy and how did you take this very thing into consideration? >> the piece of technology that was driven by our chief analyst officer who is a brilliant guy, he and his team and a woman built a system which was the idea was to look at the world and buy television based on consumption, not based on -- the gross rating port is sacrosanct. the gross rating point is a
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statistical idea of how many people might be watching based on previous behavior. you're not buying actual impressions. what we wanted to do is make tv buying more like digital buying where you are buying actual impressions or actual conversions, even better. there are increasingly data sets available about set top box data and what's being watched. now how many people might be watching but what's being watched and how is that actually relating to people's individual consumption of information and then tieing that to targeted voters. the other problem with traditional media buying is it's very coarse, gender, age, that's about it and geo. the reality is, that is not nearly detailed enough to understand the people that we're trying to reach and the relationships and stories we're trying to tell.
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if we can go deeper into not just our people 35 and older seeing this but our targeted voters, what are they watching and trying to get to a level where we are looking and thinking about the individual and what their experience of the campaign is. >> what do you mean by that? >> what are you watching? >> you. >> i don't want tv. i watch everything on dvr. >> right. i don't watch -- the only live television i watch is a crisis or a great game. right? if you want to get to me and i'm a guy of a certain age and all the rest -- >> we won't ask. >> i won't tell. i don't count. in the world of television, i no longer exist once you are over 54. i just gave it away. >> you consume information from all kinds of sources. you just don't consume it from
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broadcast television. what we need to look at it is, are there a group of people like you that are important to us as target voters that we need to persua persuade? >> in a certain place and time in. >> our goals around votes, who is going to vote for us in ohio that gets us to the vote goal that means we win ohio? what do those people look like and how do they consume information. >> one more and we will go to the audience. >> can i take that one step further? if you understand this, it cracks open the entire resource conversation which allows to you have the resources to do what michael was talking about. campaigns don't need more money. most campaigns are strapped for cash. they have finite resources. i think that if we can crack this, it opens up other resources to do more engagement, more door to door knocking, things that should be done in a campaign. it's important that people understand what the television buying just how bad that is,
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because a dma was made to sell you tide, to sell you stuff. it wasn't to do political realities. look at florida 13, this is post 2012, all this data, february of this year, we had almost $10 million plus put into broadcast. florida 13, makes up 18%. 80 cents on the dollar is wasted before you start. half those people aren't registered. 10.6% of the people are registered. you get ten cents on the dollar. unfortunately, florida is a high absentee ballot vote. so you are getting 4.7 cents of value on the dollar before you did anything else. we talk about -- >> this is the republican party. >> this is both parties. we are all lucky, because it's a republican and democrat issue. no one gets fired for buying
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broadcast. so you are getting 4.5 cents. both sides did the same thing. but it's this idea of disarmament, i'm not going to stand down until the other side down. everyone is nervous about it. >> are you on inside saying you should? >> of course you are. we even gced a race. you get this last moment of saying, what if we do it wrong and then we get blamed? i got blamed for something i had nothing to do with. you can't change it that much as you go through the process. i say jokingly, but you are nervous, because if you are the one who made the decision that broadcast is not necessary and you lost, no matter what the reasoning was, that is the reason. i think that's the challenge. it's important for people who want to be a part of politics, is you have to realize the money you have to spent is the most important resource you have to do all the other things. >> do you believe that that is going to carry on into the future as this realization that the audience and the access to
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the audience, to the voters has so changed and fragments? >> yes. >> you do think so? >> i don't think television is a broken medium for it. it will for short run because that's what people know. >> there's innertia there. if you look at ad spending relative to media consumption, the graphs are all kinds of hilarious. in terms of how brands buy versus where people are consuming information, they just don't line up. it's not because people are stupid. this is hard. it's easy to do the thing that you are confident in. you know that someone is going to watch the tv ad. there's a muscle memory and a certain amount of inertia that has to shift. there's a system and a whole -- there's a set of media buyers and people who get paid. there's incentives that line up for the system to continue the way it is even though it doesn't make sense anymore.
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it's becoming more obvious that it doesn't make sense, which makes it more likely our campaigns in 2012 were very different in terms of how much we were able to spend in other places that weren't tv. we still put a couple hundred million dollars worth of ads on tv. >> before we go to that microphone, you were talking about money and resources. i'd like you to talk for a moment about you use technology in your views in the most original, most effective, most digital way to raise the most dollars. >> i think most innovative is when you leverage your smart phone using the square application. we did a popup store at convention where we made people making a donation when they buy. the host committee had been a source of money that hadn't gone anywhere. leveraging technology used in the marketplace, you see it now. you are using square. it's the same thing. we were a year and a half ahead of that. that's one of the things is that campaigns have to be alphas of
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trying technology. the fec make it a restriction for using commercial applications. it's a challenge. but i think using square was an important example. using data to find out more and to create looka likes. you create models of what your donors look like. that's what you can do is you find by people's purchasing habits or the way they spend their time. you create models of the people you should run your campaign to. it kind of makes u. s you smart. that's where digital separates itself. when fund-raising mail goes out, the best is your first day. you should get better every day. that's the way to look at it. you are establishing a baseline and measuring against. this list is burn. i'm going to this list.


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