Your Demographic Time Bombing Is Ticking
Barely 24 hours after Dick Morris, the pudgy pundit from Fox News who rose to fame serving as an advisor to Bill Clinton during Clinton’s time as Arkansas Governor and U.S. President, predicted that Mitt Romney would win “in a landslide,” President Barack Obama was standing on a stage in Chicago delivering his acceptance speech.
Dick Morris had declared Romney’s chance of winning to be 90%, and that it would be an electoral landslide at 60%. Tragically for Romney backers, none of this came to fruition. Obama won the electoral college with 303 votes to Romney’s 206 at the time of this writing, and commanded a nearly 3 million vote advantage – a clean 50% – in the popular vote to Romney’s 48%. How could an advisor like Dick Morris be so wrong? And how could a nominee like Romney lose in a climate that all seemed set up for victory?
The answer lies in what NBC’s Chuck Todd called a “ticking time bomb.” America’s shifting demographics, which are growing increasingly diverse, less white male, and more socially conscious, caught Dick Morris, Mitt Romney and an entire American political party by surprise.
Business leaders should take note, because how you connect and communicate with your constituents, be they customers, shareholders, employees, or voting citizens, matters tremendously, and who they are and what they do defines them.
Big Data-driven communication is centered on identifying those demographic trends that matter, and then identifying those online and offline behaviors and attitudes that can motivate people to go to the polls or shop in your stores. The Obama Campaign knew this, and while the panelists on NBC’s “Morning Joe” declare Obama Chief Campaign Strategist David Plouffe “the best of all time,” you too can take advantage of deep marketing intelligence applied to your markets in a way that more perfectly reveal how you can connect with customers or other stakeholders in a way that measurably moves the needle, just like Obama’s needle went soaring to over 300 electoral votes on Tuesday night.
What demographics mattered in the campaign? While the GOP’s was tilting “toward white middle aged and older voters,” as Dick Morris confessed during his post-election haze on Wednesday morning, the Democrats were identifying key segments of significant size to whom social issues, economic issues and health issues could be uniquely tailored and presented. 71% of Latinos, for whom the issue of immigration and moderate immigration management resonanted, voted for Obama. 67% of unmarried women, for whom health care and reproductive rights mattered and for whom comments from campaigning Republicans that said there was such a thing as “legitate rape” and rapes which “God intended,” voted for Obama. 60% of 18-29 year olds, for whom college tuition debt, education and economic recovery mattered, voted for Obama. Blue-collar workers in the automotive industry whose employment depended on the success of the American car companies voted for Obama in numbers that carried the auto-heavy states of Michigan and Ohio.
This is a lesson to the wise. Where and how is your demographic time bomb ticking? Every organization has a customer base or a constituency that is changing and shifting. They are talking online, they are relocating to new areas of the country, they are taking new jobs and changing their attitudes, beliefs and purchase behavior. Are you shifting with them, and connecting with them in a way that matters? Or are you still treating them like you were five years ago? Ten years ago? If so, you may be walking the path that Romney treaded.
Leveraging Big Data analytics identified significant opportunities for the Obama campaign, and his people were able to get mobilized in a targeted fashion and concentrate their resources where the return was greatest. Also, they were able to limit and conserve resources by not focusing on areas where the outcome was known and nearly predetermined. Like Utah.
Micro-targeting people that matter with messages that more than resonate but motivate is a key tactic for any business needing to concentrate money where the returns are greatest. The four-more years Obama earned demonstrated it in dramatic fashion on Tuesday night, and the GOP is learning a lesson the hard way by not leveraging it enough.