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.


Kevin said...

Couldn't agree more. You totally hit the nail on the head, whilst wildly laying about with your hammer. "Out of touch" is the very essence of the relationship between contemporary politicians and the people they purport to serve.

Budd Bailey said...

What's this "better looking" stuff?