Monday, March 26, 2012

Who is swayed by a robocall?

There you are, cold brew in one hand, remote in the other, switching between the hockey game, the basketball game and Dancing With the Stars when your phone rings. You drop the remote (always save your beer!) and answer it, to hear an obviously recorded voice say "Hi, this is Mr. Personwethinkyourespect, and we'd like you know that Glenn Locke is in favor of skinning live puppies, and you should vote for Budd Bailey in the coming election. Budd Bailey does not skin live puppies". Your reaction to that call, of course, is to say "Well, that does it. I was going to vote Locke, but now I'm voting for Bailey". And Bailey wins the election over the clearly more qualified and better looking candidate. Right?

Not likely. If you have Caller ID, you likely didn't recognize the number and didn't pick up. Or, if you did answer, you probably hung up the minute you recognized that it was a recording and not your lawyer calling with the results of that paternity test. And if you did listen to the message, your response was probably "What kind of an idiot does Bailey think I am. That bastard! I almost spilled my beer".

The other day I heard someone discussing the GOP primaries, and there was talk about Romney and his PACs using his money to bombard voters with ads and robocalls. I thought "what kind of moron responds to a robocall?". So, I googled robocalls in a couple of ways, looking for some evidence that they work. What I seem to have found is that the limited amount of science done on this (if you are a Republican, science is where you do research to find out what the facts are) show that robocalls either seldom, or never work. Now that I am writing this, I will look to see what the impact of negative political ads are.

So, if the research shows they don't work, why the hell would a politician waste his scarce resource on robocalls? Are they too stupid to read the research? They are politicians and therefore not in touch with too many actual facts, so I guess that is possible. Certainly, robocalls are pretty cheap. But cheap is still expensive if it doesn't help your cause, or, as with me, makes me less likely to vote your way. Is paying to insult the intelligence of voters really a good idea? If anyone knows a politico who can answer this, please have them, make the email me. Because the Stanley Cup playoffs are starting soon, and I won't be putting down my beer or remote until they are over!

Full disclosure,by the way, I used to be in the telemarketing business. I worked for 2 different telemarketing companies from 1984-1993. Didn't make the calls, I just pimped for the people who did. And yes, we used people. We actually investigated robocalling with some of our clients, but they were concerned about offending their customers. Needless to say, none of my former clients are running for President.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Some things on my mind.

POLLS I saw a poll today from Pew that said Obama would kick Romney or Santorums butt by double digits in a general election, and that his approval rating was 56%. Previous polls this week said his approval was dropping, and a general election would be close. Meahwhile, Nate Silver, who was pretty damn accutate about the 2008 election, and now can be found at his 538 Blog at the NY Times, didn't have Santorum winning either MS or AL last night. What gives?

Well, unlike most other things, technology is ruining, not improving, polling. First, many people no longer have land lines,which makes them hard to reach. Or, they have caller ID which makes them hard to reach. And people are too damn busy to answer a bunch of poll questions. I believe that leaves pollsters with lonely old ladies to talk to. It is actually amazing that these guys are even close. Getting a representative sample of the voting population has to be damn near impossible today.

Silver, by the way, is not a pollster, but an aggregator. He takes the data from all the polling sources and combines them, with adjustment for timing and bias. This idea seems to make sense, as he is using thousands of responses, instead of 1000 or fewer an individual poll would have. But he is having a hell of a time getting the primaries right. Meanwhile, every poll is reported by all the news sources because.....well, they need something to talk about.

Can't anyone just say "I have no idea what is going to happen"?

GAS PRICES: Okay first, quit your fucking whining you spoiled Americans! You have the cheapest gas by far in the developed world. Second, there is little the President, either Obama or the guys who want to replace him, can do about the price. And if you throw out the things that are just plain stupid to do, like a price ceiling or emptying the strategic reserve, there is nothing.

Gas prices have gone up because world oil prices have gone up. World oil prices have gone up because of increased world demand, and because of political unrest in the Middle East. Drilling every possible well in the US won't solve the problem, and won't even help in the short run.

And for the GOP "Drill Baby Drill" idiots, here is a fact you don't want to admit: US oil production is higher now than when Obama became President, not less. And another question for the GOP presidential candidates: What will the price of gas be after you start that war with Iran that you are itching for?

NCAA HOOP March Madness is here, and it leaves me with a dilemma similar to my feelings about XMAS. I love the tourney, hate the NCAA. It is a monopoly and should be illegal. It has a set of rules that rival the US tax code in complexity and lack of good sense. And the idea that the players not only don't get paid, but that their images are used to make money for others is outrageous, if not just plain criminal.

So that means I will ignore the Big Dance for moral reasons, right? No, I will be heading to the sports bar for lunch tomorrow and Friday to watch 4 games at once. But I'll feel dirty doing it!