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“The conventional wisdom has been destroyed. What you can do is rely on data,” Jeff Roe, Cruz’s campaign manager told the Washington Post at the time. In fact, Cruz’s camp had statisticians and behavioral psychologists from the firm embedded in order to help with what it called psychographic targeting, “which categorizes supporters into personality groups in order to target them with specially tailored messaging,” according to the company.
Rubio, meanwhile, was helped by hiring veteran hands from Mitt Romney’s successful 2012 bid for the GOP presidential nomination. Stuart Stevens, Romney’s top strategist in 2012, credited Rubio consultant Rich Beeson with forming data models that helped shape the Romney strategy four years ago.
“Every primary, Rich predicted the result before and was always right,” Stevens said. “His in-depth analytics then was tremendously important for us.” Beeson, a partner at FLS Connect, declined to comment for this piece.
Stevens also praised Roe, who has a reputation as an aggressive strategist.
“Data analytics helped them know where their vote is. I think Jeff Roe did a superb job,” said Stevens. “But Cruz really worked it. He did it the old fashioned way and voters rewarded him for it.”
Other consultants credited Cruz’s traditional campaign structure and put less emphasis on his data analytics for propelling him to victory.
“It was quite a concerted campaign, it wasn’t just data analytics,” said Bob Haus, an Iowa-based GOP consultant. “He traveled. He did all 99 counties and his message was consistent. There are some things data can tell you, but technology only gets you so far.”
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- Cruz campaign credits psychological data and analytics for its rising success.
As Cecil Stinemetz walked up to a gray clapboard house in suburban Des Moines last week wearing his “Cruz 2016” cap, a program on his iPhone was determining what kind of person would answer the door.
Would she be a “relaxed leader”? A “temperamental conservative”? Maybe even a “true believer”?
Nope. It turned out that Birdie Harms, a 64-year-old grandmother, part-time real estate agent and longtime Republican, was, by the Ted Cruz campaign’s calculations, a “stoic traditionalist” — a conservative whose top concerns included President Obama’s use of executive orders on immigration.
Which meant that Stinemetz was instructed to talk to her in a tone that was “confident and warm and straight to the point” and ask about her concerns regarding the Obama administration’s positions on immigration, guns and other topics.
The outreach to Harms and others like her is part of a months-long effort by the Cruz campaign to profile and target potential supporters, an approach that campaign officials believe has helped propel the senator from Texas to the top tier among Republican presidential candidates in many states, including Iowa, where he is in first place, according to two recent polls. It’s also a multimillion-dollar bet that such efforts still matter in an age of pop-culture personalities and social-media messaging.