GOP Data Strategies

If you want a fresh perspective on the GOP presidential nomination contest that doesn’t involve nuanced in candidate reactions to Supreme Court opinions, check out Sasha Issenberg’s piece at Bloomberg Politics on the apparent data strategies of the three contenders he considers “top-tier:” Walker, Rubio and Bush, based mostly on the track record of the people they’ve hired.

To sum it up neatly, Issenberg figures Walker is focused on immediate recognition of trends among existing caucus and primary voters, especially in Iowa. He’s hired the same firm used by Joni Ernst, who smoked what was originally a competitive GOP Senate field in 2014. Rubio seems likely to use data to make spending more efficient, and to adjudicate arguments between different branches of the campaign. And Bush is likely to deploy his data teams to maximize TV ad targeting.

This all makes sense in view of the candidates’ overall strategies, as you probably have guessed. Walker’s overall strategy is to win Iowa and show himself as acceptable to both “very” and “somewhat” conservative voters. Rubio’s prize asset is the candidate himself, thought to be the most popular in the field, so it’s critical to stay flexible and efficient and prepare for any opening. And Bush, most obviously, is playing the long game, but also needs to make sure his positive and negative TV ad efforts don’t collide.

Maybe Huck and Jindal and Santorum and Fiorina and Perry and Trump and Kasich will stay in the race long enough to have a data strategy, or maybe not. Right now most of them are probably investing all their money into travel expenses and amplifying their roars at Obama and HRC.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.