But Will They Play Well in Peoria?

(Skip the explanation and jump to the political stuff)

Caveat Lector: This post is going to be full of numbers and science. It’s about the psychology of political candidates and their likelihood of success within certain US geographic populations. Here that likelihood is determined by analyzing and comparing the cognitive, behavioral/effective and motivational factors of the candidates to those of the populations in various geographic regions. Collectively these cognitive, behavioral/effective and motivational factors are called the {C,B/e,M} matrix. NextStage calls them RichPersonae for marketing purposes. If you’ve ever encountered things like “ISTP”, “INTJ”, “ESFP” or “ENFP” you get the idea. You can learn more in the links below.

For those new to Politics2012, this blog is about politics as marketing, about how something is said being more important than what is said, and as one NextStage client said, “NextStage turns marketing into a science”. Here we turn that scientific eye on politics.

And So We Begin…

Hello and sorry for being away for so long. We’ve been busily at work and we hope you’ll enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Our 2004 and 2008 election cycle posts included geographic-based success information, as in where, geographically, would the candidates be successful and do well. We’ve not been including that in this cycle because of we’ve been upgrading the part of our core technology that reports such things.

Last week, though, we released our NextStage SampleMatch Tool. NextStage SampleMatch currently analyzes people’s online behavior in over 70 countries and some 1,200 individual locations. SampleMatch is designed to answer one question and one question only. Metaphorically, that question is “Will it play well in Peoria?” and NextStage SampleMatch answers that question by segmenting a given geographic audience’s cognitive, behavioral and motivational factors — the “{C,B/e,M} matrix” — into 144 distinct categories (NextStage’s RichPersonae). That “144” is unique to the United States, Canada, Great Britain and much of Australia. Western Europe brings the total up to 225 and that number increases as you move east through Europe and into Asia, south through Africa and so on.

People’s decision making, behaviors and ways of thinking are, to a very large degree, regionally influenced. You can find individuals in New Hampshire who think, make decisions and behave very much like individuals in South Carolina, true, but taken as entire populations, the people in New Hampshire and the people in South Carolina think differently.

In fact, the people in New Hampshire are a pretty diverse bunch from a decision making, behavioral and thinking perspective. There are 45 distinct RichPersonae and the four largest are A14, A6, K9 and V14 respectively (notice that they are different designations? We’ll explain what some of them mean further down). The good folks in South Carolina are also diverse although not as much so, with only 33 distinct RichPersonae, the two dominating are A3 and A6. What’s very much worth knowing is that the number of people included in those four New Hampshire listings is a smaller percentage of NH’s entire population than those two South Carolina segments, 32.7% New Hampshire versus 37.8% South Carolina. From a creating content (designing marketing) perspective, it’s easier to create content that will appeal to a combined A3A6 population than it is to create content for a combined A14A6K9V14 population because A3s and A6s have much more in common than do A14s, A6s, K9s and V14s.

Lessons from Marketing

What we’ve learned from marketing and advertising is that you need to communicate to people in the way they think if you want to persuade them to do something you want them to do. Do you want them to buy your cars? Then you need to let them know you understand them and their needs, share their wants, desires and values, have had similar experiences and lives to them. The same holds true if you want them to buy your soap, milk, perfume, razors, shoes, pork chops, …

The easiest and simplest way to demonstrate shared experience, values, et cetera, is to talk the way your target audience talks, act they way they act, look the way they look, do what they do and — you got it — think the way they think. If you walk, act, look and do what they do you’ve already mirrored them behaviorally and decision-making wise. Learning how people are thinking, making decisions and behaving is what NextStage’s SampleMatch Tool is all about. You can, for example, get an idea of how the world thinks, behaves and makes decisions via NextStage’s SampleMatch’s World Report.

Where Marketing Turns Political

The political question that arises from this is relatively simple to solve; If we know how the candidates think, make decisions and behave, can we determine where, geographically, they’re most likely to succeed with the electorate?

We think yes and offer the following exploration.

Do They Ever Change Their Tune?

The Republican Presidential candidates have been traveling across the country in the past few months to take part in various debates. But who were they talking to in these different locations? The people in the audience? The viewing television audience? The moderators? Perhaps each other?

Let’s consider this alphabetically, starting with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. In the 13 June 11 New Hampshire debate she demonstrated a V13 RichPersona. She demonstrated the same V13 RichPersona during 7 Aug 11 Iowa debate, the 12 Sep 11 Florida debate, the 22 Sep 11 Florida debate, the 11 Oct 11 New Hampshire debate and the 18 Oct 11 Nevada debate. That’s very consistent and if you like that kind of personality you should vote for her. Main elements of the V13 RichPersona include

  • These people are moved by what they see
  • They readily act upon information which directs their attention to present problems and challenges
  • They largely ignore appeals to past or future events when forming opinions
  • They are happiest when they have something to do

But, as stated above, the question is “How many people is Michele Bachmann really reaching?” …really reaching… means more than people showing up at her rallies and such, it means people who are moved by her deeply enough to vote for her when they know their vote is going to be counted.

V13 RichPersona don't score well in the USIn the US as a whole there are 48 distinct RichPersonae active as I write this (24 Oct 11). Of those 48, V13 ranks #40 with 0.14% of the population. Iowa has 11 distinct RichPersonae and none of them are V13. Ditto Florida (24 distinct RichPersonae), New Hampshire and Nevada (15 distinct RichPersonae). We can cast our net a little wider by increasing our search to the “close to but not exact” matches — V12 and V14 in this case — and come up with US at 11.8%, Iowa at 5.41%, Florida at 16.25%, New Hampshire at 8.35% and Nevada at 9.76% (guess there are a lot of mid-range V RichPersonae in Nevada).

That Florida spike comes from adding V14s into the mix. Some V14 characteristics are

  • These people are strongly motivated by what they see
  • They are success oriented
  • Presentations with emotions must be positive in nature
  • They make decisions based on what feels “right”, “correct” or “best”

Are you from Florida? Does that describe you or people you know?

But what’s important to note for the purposes of this analysis is that Michele Bachmann has thus far not changed her tune regardless of where she’s been or who she’s been with.

Bachmann and Cain would work amazingly well togetherHerman Cain starts out as V13 and stays there throughout all the debates. Again, great consistency. Not sure it will serve him well although it does indicate he and Congresswoman Bachmann could politically partner up and do well together. In fact, NextStage’s Compatibility Gauge gives them an incredible 96% compatibility rating. The only challenge to this pairing might be Cain dominating the conversation and having to be reminded to let Bachmann talk once in a while.

K13s also don't fare wellNewt Gingrich demonstrated a V13 RichPersona in the first New Hampshire debate and Iowa, a K13 early in September, a V9 in late September and returned to a V13 in both the second New Hampshire debate and Nevada. We already know how V13 plays in the US, Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire and Nevada from the above. K13 gets 0.05% of the US, 0% of Iowa, 0% of Florida, 0.15% of New Hampshire and 0% in Nevada, V9 gets 2.53% US, 0% Iowa, 0.83% Florida, 3.19% New Hampshire and 0% Nevada. Widening our search as we did with Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich’s K13 Tampa demonstration picks up 4.27% US, remains at 16.22% in Iowa, 1.67% Florida, 7.15% New Hampshire and 3.66% Nevada, V9 brings him 2.95% US, 0% Iowa, 0.83% Florida, 4.23% New Hampshire and 0% Nevada.

What causes that spike in Iowa? Widening our search from K13 to K12, K13 and K14 brings in the largest single behavioral segment in Iowa, K14. What are K14 people like?

  • learn most rapidly when allowed to experience it directly
  • enjoy being shown how to do things provided they can take an active part in whatever’s being shown or demonstrated to them
  • often require a follow-up discussion to an activity in order to cement the learning
  • make decisions easily when they involve physical activity

Are you from Iowa and does that describe you or the people you know?

V9s pick up some energy from outlyersThe problem with computing any kind of likely following with a tune-changing candidate is exactly that — their tune changes from place to place. Such tune changing wouldn’t have mattered much in the days of pre-internet campaigning because mass media was limited to three networks and print, journalistic standards were different and people weren’t forced into attention deficit states by a 24×7 information deluge. Now anyone and everyone has a voice and who you pay attention to depends greatly on what you already believe to be true. Opinions matter more than facts, it seems, and a minor misstep in Oregon butterflies via YouTube, Twitter and blogs to massive opinion earthquakes in Georgia. In any case, Newt, as of this writing, doesn’t have much of a chance.

K9s also don't fare wellJohn Huntsman went from K13 to K9 to V13 as he traveled about. K9 gone wide garnishes 3.22% US, 0% Iowa, 2.5% Florida, 8.96% New Hampshire and 2.44% Nevada.

We’ll see other candidates shifting RichPersonae from place to place, as well. There are many reasons such shifting can happen and when it happens to someone late to the table I start to wonder if it’s an indication of someone attempting to define themselves. Not offering this as the case, only an question for readers to explore.

Congressman Ron Paul also started as V13 and stayed that way save the 22 Feb 11 Orlando debate where he shifted to V9 for the night. Both of these RichPersonae are covered in the above and again, shifts, even minor ones, can weaken an already electorally weak candidate. A candidate demonstrating one RichPersona at the start of the campaign, shifting and remaining at another one would be acceptable to the electorate and might even cause a lift in the polls, but a shift out, away and back again might be considered pandering.

K5 does well in Iowa and nowhere elseRick Perry is V13 at the early September TeaParty debate, K5 in Orlando, back to V13 in New Hampshire and K13 at the Nevada slugfest. A wide K5 brings him 0.87% US, 16.22% Iowa, 1.67% Florida, 2.04% New Hampshire and 0% Nevada.

Note the strong Iowa showing? That’s due to “going wide”. K5 and K6 are the fifth and sixth largest psychological demographics in Iowa at 8.11% of the online population each. This “going wide” is an example of upleveling your message to get a larger audience.

Instead of focusing on the K13 audience and picking up K14 (recognizing you’ll lose a bit of that because the message isn’t exactly K14ish), you could uplevel your message to address similarities in the K5 and K6 RichPersonae. Done properly this would allow you to pick up K4 through K7. Recognize that each upleveling means your message will reach a larger audience and elements of that larger audience will respond with requests that you perfect your message exactly for them.

K5s are

  • These people have a basic negative attitude towards life
  • They base decisions on an intuitive sense of what is “wrong” or “bad” or “incorrect”
  • They make decisions which they hope will get them away from dissatisfying situations rather than ones which will get them closer to positive situations
  • They can be influenced by images of problem situations which will directly affect them

K6s are

  • These people live in the moment
  • They make decisions based on an intuitive sense of what is “good” or “right” or “correct”
  • They learn lessons based on positive emotional experiences
  • They are very physical about and when describing their experience

How do you uplevel these two? Appeal to emotions and intuitive problem solving, liberally sprinkled with descriptions of themselves in problem situations. Make sure those descriptions are very visceral in nature.

Mitt Romney starts out V13 in New Hampshire and Iowa, goes K13 in Tampa and returns to V13 for the rest of the debates (to date).

That leaves Rick Santorum who starts out V13 in New Hampshire, follows Mitt Romney into K13dom in Tampa and V13 in the rest of the debates (to date).

Who Played to Their Audience?

House Speaker Tip O’Neill once said “All politics is local” and investigating that we ask “Were the politicians playing to the studio audiences?”

The 13 June 2011 New Hampshire debate audience was Kish by a 5:3 margin, meaning the majority of people came literally to see the candidates first hand, to experience them as close to one-on-one as possible while letting them remain presidential. However, all the candidates demonstrated V13 RichPersona. The only other notably V13 RichPersonae present was the CNN moderator, John King. Thus, at least in the first New Hampshire debate, the candidates played to the moderator, not to the immediate audience or the nation at large (the largest single RichPersona in the US is V3 at 14.31%).

The Iowa audience was evenly divided between As and Vs, so the only candidate who could not leave a mark on the immediate audience was Huntsman who demonstrated a K13 RichPersona that night.

Tampa’s studio audience was overwhelmingly dominated by K13 RichPersona. This could be the first time the candidates played to the audience because Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum all demonstrated that same K13 RichPersona. All the other candidates stuck to their V13 guns. They may have reached some in the audience but not the majority of the audience and not deeply enough to leave a mark.

Orlando is where we see the candidates hitting their “matching the audience” stride, as it were. The Orlando audience was V13, thus Bachmann, Cain, Huntsman, Perry, Romney and Santorum made their marks. Gingrich and Paul opted for V9 RichPersona so perhaps they were talking to each other?

Back in New Hampshire the candidates are all in step and singing the same song (regardless of their campaign differences); they’re all V13s and this time, the studio audience being based out of Hanover and Dartmouth College, they got a fairly homogeneous audience that was also largely V13s. Someone designed this debate from the audience up to make sure everything came out good.

Now to Nevada. Everybody in the room was V13 except Rick Perry and the audience. Both Rick Perry and the studio audience were K13 and strongly so.

Was it inevitable that Romney and Perry would clash? Nothing’s inevitable, at least we hope so when it comes to how our possible presidents behave under pressure.

Romney and Perry were going to get along 50/50 at bestThat noted, Romney and Perry were approximately 50% compatible that evening (as determined by NextStage’s Compatibility Gauge). There were other debates where the candidates RichPersonae could have caused conflict, why openly so in Nevada?

The answer could be due to the audience’s collectively strong K13 RichPersona. Have you ever seen a stage or concert performer get juiced by their audience, their performance goes up because they are so emotionally and psychologically in sync with their audience? That could be what happened here. Perry was spurred on by the audience’s sympatico K13 RichPersona.

However — and excuse the editorial comment — I’d prefer a President who responds to the situation and not the populace’s charismatic flow.

That noted, what did NextStage’s Compatibility Gauge determine would happen?

  • Dominance games will break out at some point in time, probably instigated by Romney
  • It’s quite likely Perry will consider Romney assertive to the point of being aggressive
  • There will be clash of wills or agendas at some point and probably early in the discussion/negotiation

But What About Peoria?

Well, no, nobody is going to do well in Peoria. That part of the country is overwhelmingly V6 with 33.33% of the population reporting. What makes a V6 a V6?

  • They need information in pictures, charts and graphs
  • These people tend to keep their own counsel although they will listen to others
  • They are swayed by statements and/or arguments of what is going right, right now
  • They base decisions on what might happen right now rather than what might happen later on

Sorry, there ain’t nobody in the Republican field singing their song.


NextStage made accurate predictions months ahead of others in previous election cycles using the following criteria:

  • Matching candidate RichPersona to geographic RichPersona
  • Determining which candidates were communicating to the largest gender segments
  • Determining which candidates were communicating to the largest age segments
  • The relative and individual strengths of the candidates’ presidential messaging

Much of this information is contained in NextStage’s Political Analysis Tool. This post focuses on whether or not the candidates can sing the voting population’s song.

We hope you enjoyed it.

And whether you did or didn’t, please go out and vote.

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