$6 Billion & Counting

Campaign spending is obscene. Can analytics help address the problem before the 2016 election?
NO RATINGS
11/9/2012 |  3
View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Lyndon_Henry
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Incentives
Lyndon_Henry   11/15/2012 5:10:40 PM
NO RATINGS
..

MNorth writes


How to we stop an avalanche of wasteful spending?  The only way I can think of is to change the incentives.  The problem is: I don't know how you do that.  If voters respond to attack ads by voting for the attacker, then negative ads will proliferate.


 

I agree that the volume of financial resources poured into political campaigning is outrageous — obscene, in my view.  Furthermore, these campaigns have largely become a war of lies, misrepresentations, and deceptive weasel rhetoric, so it sure looks like the public is tending to tune out ... of politics altogether in many cases.

As for Gary Johnson, "let the market rule" would seem to be a guiding principle of the Libertarian perspective, so I would not hold out for a breakthrough solution from that component of the political herd.

Moreover, it sure seems like the situation is getting worse, not better, especially with the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling (opening the floodgates for unlimited corporate investment in political campaigns).  In fact, court rulings have weakened the ability of trade unions to similarly collect money to contribute to campaigns, so the net effect is to goose corporate influence and power tremendously and skew the so-called "balance". 

It's hard to see how analytics could help, except for the analytics that are supposed to function within that spongy mass inside human craniums.

 

BethSchultz
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Incentives
BethSchultz   11/14/2012 1:46:04 PM
NO RATINGS
@mnorth -- Vegas comes to mind. Do we really need that glittering monstrosity in the middle of a pristine desert? No. Will the spending on and in Vegas ever stop. No. There are some American institutions -- politics and Vegas -- where the obscene spending simply won't stop. At least not in our lifetimes, I doubt.

mnorth
User Rank
Blogger
Incentives
mnorth   11/14/2012 11:53:29 AM
NO RATINGS
I am a big subscriber to the Freakonomian theory that people respond to incentives.  With you, I am appalled at the level of campaign spending and found the statistics you revealed about the good that could have been done with the money to be simultaneously heartbreaking and damning.  

When you cast the expenditures in the context of PolitiFact-style examinations of truth and mud-slinging, the waste becomes even more disheartening.

So if excessive campaign spending is so audaciously inhumane, why does it happen?  It happens because of Freakonomian incentives.  If every American hates negative campaign ads (a claim you hear thrown around nonchalantly every campaign season), then why do negative ads continue to proliferate?  Answer: because they're effective, so there's an incentive for candidates to participate in the practice.

Gary Johnson ran the most successful Libretarian campaign for president in history and still failed to garner even 1% of the U.S. popular vote.  If he had access to war chest level funding, almost certainly his share of vote would have been higher, and no doubt he'd have spent the money to make it so.

So, how do we fix it?  How to we stop an avalanche of wasteful spending?  The only way I can think of is to change the incentives.  The problem is: I don't know how you do that.  If voters respond to attack ads by voting for the attacker, then negative ads will proliferate.  If a third-party candidate can't get votes unless he or she buys their name into the public consciousness, then ad buys will continue in droves.

To wit, this is just a small part of Gary Johnson's thank you letter posted on his web site: "I will be traveling the country to give voice to Liberty. All those tasks, and many more, require funding. I really want you to be a part of what we will be doing over the next few weeks, and I hope you will go to GaryJohnson2012.com and help make sure we have the funding we need."

With this as the mentality, I take a pessimistic view and believe that only legislation could curb the spending avalanche, and that too is fraught with peril.

Latest Blogs
Visualizations help communicate the meaning behind analytics to a variety of users. Now virtual reality is taking that a step further.
You've heard all about the data science talent gap that McKinsey cited in 2011, but there's a lot more -- including new information -- that you need to know about McKinsey's ongoing research. Learn more Thursday on All Analytics Radio.
What hybrid automobile offers the highest MPG? It's not the Prius anymore. Take a look at these visualizations to find out the new leader.
Understanding retail customers means knowing what they will want and when they will want it. To deliver that, retailers must be able to see customer behavior across physical stores, the web, mobile apps, and more.
Chatbots, AI, virtual reality, machine learning, and more will be featured as leading edge technologies for retailers attending the NRF Annual Convention and Expo in New York City. But many retailers are still getting their arms around advanced analytics.
Radio Show
A2 Conversations
ARCHIVE
Jessica Davis
Analytics: Make the Most of Data's Potential in 2017


1/19/2017  LISTEN   19
ARCHIVE
Jessica Davis
A2 Radio: Can You Trust Your Data?


12/20/2016  LISTEN   70
ARCHIVE
James M. Connolly
Retail Analytics: See Where Style Meets Statistics


12/6/2016  LISTEN   53
ARCHIVE
James M. Connolly
Why the IoT Matters to Your Business


11/29/2016  LISTEN   45
ARCHIVE
James M. Connolly
Will Data and Humans Become Friends in 2017?


11/22/2016  LISTEN   40
ARCHIVE
James M. Connolly
We Can Build Smarter Cities


10/20/2016  LISTEN   31
ARCHIVE
James M. Connolly
Visualization: Let Your Data Speak


10/13/2016  LISTEN   70
ARCHIVE
James M. Connolly
How Colleges and Tech Are Grooming Analytics Talent


9/7/2016  LISTEN   56
ARCHIVE
James M. Connolly
How Machine Learning Takes Handwriting Recognition to New Levels


8/25/2016  LISTEN   40
ARCHIVE
AllAnalytics
A Look at Tomorrow's Data Scientist


8/9/2016  LISTEN   83
Information Resources
Quick Poll
Quick Poll
About Us  |  Contact Us  |  Help  |  Register  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  RSS