Company That Consults on Beer-Bottle Design Questions Romney VP Pick—with Algorithms!

The new science of winning campaigns
Aug. 27 2012 10:00 AM

Company That Consults on Beer-Bottle Design Questions Romney VP Pick—with Algorithms!

150823598
A customer walks by bottles of beer on sale in the shopping area of the small craft brewery of Eataly, a temple to Italian gastronomy, on August 22, 2012 in Rome. Craft beers currently make up around two percent of Italy's beer market but the share is growing in double-figures every year as the trend catches on. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/GettyImages)

Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/GettyImages

If the Romney campaign is to be believed, it conducted less polling about the prospects of a Romney-Ryan ticket before Paul Ryan's appointment than a company in Romney's backyard has now done as part of a stunt statistical-modeling project, as the Boston Globe reports today:

Affinova Inc., a Waltham company that has repurposed algorithms devised for genetic research to address such consumer-product issues as how to design beer bottles and supermarket cereal aisles, claims that Mitt Romney may have missed an opportunity in not choosing a woman as a running mate.
Ditto for President Obama. If Hillary Clinton were to be his running mate, he’d have a good chance of connecting with swing voters, said Affinnova, which said it used its optimization software to sort through millions of combinations of vice presidents, platforms, slogans, and candidate images.
According to Affinnova’s analysis, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would have made for an excellent Romney running mate.
Typically, Affinnova uses its technology to help such companies as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and Post Foods launch products and conduct consumer research. Those same analytical methods found that strong political women appeal to this year’s swing voters. Affinnova partly reached this conclusion by getting feedback from 1,000 swing voters in early August, and then a few days later, measuring the potential for success of Romney-Rice and Obama-Clinton tickets with a nationally representative sample of 2,000 likely voters.
Advertisement

It is not at all clear from the story (or the company's press release) what exactly the company did that was beyond standard polling, or why it needed "repurposed algorithms devised for genetic research" to ask people before and after the decision what they wanted to see in a vice-presidential candidate or which of two hypothetical tickets they preferred.  But it's hard for a PR firm to go wrong these days feeding an unskeptical media's appetite for silly "Big Data" stories.

Sasha Issenberg is the author of The Victory Lab about the new science of political campaigns.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
History
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 29 2014 11:32 PM The Daydream Disorder Is sluggish cognitive tempo a disease or disease mongering?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.