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The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns (edition 2012)

by Sasha Issenberg

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8414143,474 (3.96)3
Member:bkd
Title:The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns
Authors:Sasha Issenberg
Info:Crown (2012), Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns by Sasha Issenberg

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I found this book incredibly enjoyable. That said, I'm a political scientist, so there might be bias in this review...

This book is a straightforward look at how political campaigns have changed over the past couple decades. Issenberg does an excellent job tracking how political scientists and campaign operatives, who had operated in distinct, non-overlapping spheres throughout much of the 20th Century, began to mix as the demand for quality turnout and voter data increased with campaigns' technological capacities. The book is full of great anecdotes about how modern campaigns measure what tactics work and what tactics don't.

Political junkies will love this book, though I'm not confident that it would have appeal to those not already interested in the topic. ( )
  ArtVanDelay1774 | May 22, 2014 |
Great story of the work of political campaigns and political participation generally. Someone interested in applying the methods in another context, such as another country, must keep in mind how much they rely on the public voting files that give information of whether someone voted. Without these, the microtargeting made possible by matching the voter records with consumer databases and census information would not be feasible, and it would make experimentation much more difficult.

One thing that bothers me: The actual politics is often lost sight of. It would be great if these advances also could contribute to improving policy. ( )
  ohernaes | Dec 18, 2013 |
The reason that I have always been interested in politics is because of the ideas behind the political contests. I want to ensure that the person who is elected to whatever position they are running for holds the same values and concerns that I do. Such idealism is not what this book is about. It is, as one of the back of the book blurbs says, Moneyball for politics. The author examines the various techniques that both Democrats and Republicans have come up with, based on social science and economic models, to determine who they can persuade to vote for their candidate and how to persuade people to actually get to the polls on election day once they are registered.
For the most part I enjoyed following the trail of a new innovation to learn how a hunch that a certain method would work turned into an experiment and then turned into a standard campaigning practice. My only complaint was that it is a little heavy on the nitty-gritty details of the economic and mathematical models being used. However, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in politics or anyone who is interested in how mathematical and statistical models can have an impact on our government. ( )
  elmoelle | Aug 9, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book just ahead of the 2012 election, and I was disappointed that I had such a hard time getting into it. Once I got about a third of the way, things kind of clicked and I was able to finish it in a few hours.

The book is thankfully non-partisan account on the history of our campaign culture and everything that goes into an election campaign today. This is one of the books that makes you smarter; a definite must-read for anyone who cares about behind-the-scenes election machinations. ( )
  boingerhead | Feb 22, 2013 |
Very detailed history of the modern data-focused campaign, using microtargeting to make sure each potential voter is “touched” in just the right way, and yes it is in some sense that creepy. The detailed portrait of entrenched resistance to better means of finding relevant voters is useful in showing yet again that even a committed partisan can have trouble accepting new facts if those facts will threaten his (essentially always his) income stream, since it’s the consultants here who array themselves against innovation (in the form of other consultants). Issenberg tracks the Republican data/mobilization advantage of 2004 and its dissipation in 2008; much of this story has been told in the popular press, but Issenberg at least contextualizes it. One takeaway is that you can’t work miracles with data alone—though consultants are looking for the best way to phrase appeals for funds, they are also working off a support score (how likely you are to support a particular candidate) that is responsive to changes in the salience of public issues. People will still vote differently in a recession than in good times; targeting is mostly about making the most of your possible universe of voters. Issenberg leaves to others the rest of the story: the way in which issues and rhetoric are shaped by electoral demands. ( )
  rivkat | Dec 30, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 030795479X, Hardcover)

The book Politico calls “Moneyball for politics” shows how cutting-edge social science and analytics are reshaping the modern political campaign.

Renegade thinkers are crashing the gates of a venerable American institution, shoving aside its so-called wise men and replacing them with a radical new data-driven order. We’ve seen it in sports, and now in The Victory Lab, journalist Sasha Issenberg tells the hidden story of the analytical revolution upending the way political campaigns are run in the 21st century.
     The Victory Lab follows the academics and maverick operatives rocking the war room and re-engineering a high-stakes industry previously run on little more than gut instinct and outdated assumptions. Armed with research from behavioural psychology and randomized experiments that treat voters as unwitting guinea pigs, the smartest campaigns now believe they know who you will vote for even before you do.  Issenberg tracks these fascinating techniques—which include cutting edge persuasion experiments, innovative ways to mobilize voters, heavily researched electioneering methods—and shows how our most important figures, such as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, are putting them to use with surprising skill and alacrity.
     Provocative, clear-eyed and energetically reported, The Victory Lab offers iconoclastic insights into political marketing, human decision-making, and the increasing power of analytics. 

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:31 -0400)

"A look how social scientists and renegade thinkers are imposing a new data-driven order on the American political campaign--an industry previously run on gut instinct"--

(summary from another edition)

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