In the race to get an edge over their opponents, political campaigns have harnessed science and technology to maximize results in a variety of arenas, including fund-raising, voter outreach, canvassing and persuasion. As researchers expand our understanding of new areas, particularly human behavior and psychology, rich new campaigning applications present themselves. Here are four innovators whose work promises to provide new, powerful tools to tomorrow’s campaigns.
 
Biometrics
Dr. Carl Marci, CEO and Co-founder, Innerscope Research


 
We know that voters’ reactions to political stimuli are often driven by emotions, but monitoring people’s emotions is no easy task. Innerscope Research is changing
that. The revolutionary media research firm uses a breakthrough, non-invasive biometric approach to measure and analyze emotional response to all types of media. Founded by Dr. Carl Marci and Brian Levine, Innerscope leverages advances in neuroscience, biometrics and computer programming, combining measures of skin conductivity, heart rate variability, respiratory response and body and eye movements to provide deeper insight into consumers’ reactions to messages in ads. The advantage of this integrated approach is that it extracts measures that go beyond self-reports.
 
Application of biometric research in political settings has been rare—so far. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Innerscope partnered with Telemundo to use the technique to gauge Latino voters’ emotional responses to presidential candidates’ debate performance. While Innerscope has worked primarily with commercial advertisers, it is open to working with political clients in the future. Another firm, Schlesinger Associates, is already providing some biometric services for political purposes. As the technology becomes more affordable, the approach will surely become a staple of future campaigns.
 
Geospatial Mapping
David Flaherty, CEO and Founder, Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies, LLC


 
Every campaign needs a good roadmap to victory on Election Day. Knowing
where voters are is essential to executing effective campaigns. Today, increasingly affordable geographic information system (GIS) software enables campaigns to
map out districts and graphically pinpoint target areas.
 
Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies is a leading provider of GIS mapping strategies for political campaigns. Founder and CEO David Flaherty, an eighteen-year veteran of political campaigns and government affairs, is a pioneer in the field. As a member of the Republican National Committee’s Political Analysis Department in the 1990s, Flaherty became the party’s point-person for GIS technology. He later worked for the conservative grassroots organization Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF), the Trailhead Group and the Colorado Good Government Initiative, where he helped to develop Web-based applications and technology-related strategies. In addition to Magellan, other firms that specialize in GIS mapping applications for political organizations include Caliper Corporation, SpatiaLogic, Fall Line Analytics, and First Tuesday in November.
 
Voter Mobilization
Todd Rogers, Founding Executive Director, Analyst Institute



There are myths about the capacities of various mobilization techniques to drive voters to the polls, and then there is reality. Groundbreaking field experiments conducted by Yale political scientists Donald Green, Alan Gerber and their colleagues have shed light on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of a wide range of tactics. Todd Rogers has taken this work even further at the Analyst Institute by working with progressive organizations nationwide to run randomized controlled studies designed to determine what kind of voter contact programs work and what kind do not. This research has helped to set a new bar for the rigorous study of voter mobilization and has helped campaigns across the country maximize the impact of their outreach efforts. Rogers, a 2009 C&E Rising Star, received a Ph.D. jointly from the Harvard University Psychology Department and Harvard Business School.
 
Predictive Analytics and Microtargeting
Ken Strasma, President, Strategic Telemetry, Inc.



As microtargeting has become an indispensable tool for political campaigns, operatives
are learning to harness the power of predictive analytic techniques to analyze and model voters’ attitudes and behavior. Campaigns increasingly deploy these data to identify receptive voters and to devise effective communications and mobilization techniques.
 
Ken Strasma, president of Strategic Telemetry and the national target director for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, is a pioneer in the application of high-tech statistical modeling for political campaigns. His Washington, D.C.–based firm, launched in 2003, has led numerous campaigns to victory, including many Democratic campaigns as well as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2009 re-election campaign.
 
Costas Panagopoulos, Ph.D., is executive editor of C&E.