June 3, 2012

"We have seen the power of a single mailer disclosing the voting behavior of oneself and one’s neighbors."

"Does this effect persist over time, in the form of newly created voting habit?" asks an academic study (PDF) linked by Professor Jacobson, as he discusses that creepy mailer that showed my name and my neighbors' names and whether we'd voted in the last 2 elections. From the study:
The remarkable effectiveness of the social pressure appeals contrasts with the relatively modest effects observed in previous studies of the effectiveness of direct mail voter mobilization campaigns....

The difference between our intervention and mail used in previous experiments is that ours harnesses one of the most formidable forces in social psychology, pressure to conform to social norms....

Decades of survey research have suggested that people implicitly defer to the norm of voting, insofar as they tend to exaggerate their past rates of voter turnout....

From a theoretical vantage point, the sheer magnitude of the surveillance effect suggests an important new line of attack for scholars seeking to explain long-term declines in voter turnout.... 
The surveillance effect! It's important for people to know when political organizations, like the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund, are deliberately using a psychological manipulation that has been tested and studied. Please, get out the word that mailers like this are trying to mobilize...

The Surveillance Effect.

51 comments:

Tom Spaulding said...

"Freedom's just another word for 'something lefties lose'" - Kris Kristofferson without a beard

ndspinelli said...

There has been a 360 regarding surveillance by liberals from the 1960's. Back then, it was "big brother" and "privacy". Liberals have devolved to now they are the party of surveillance[Chicago has the most police cameras] and drones. They realize the genie is out of the bottle, it's never going back in, and they will use it to their advantage. They have no soul[not Crack "soul"..mortal soul].

ndspinelli said...

I notice the moderator here has more of a sense of humor and slightly thicker skin when posts are down. Just sayn'.

edutcher said...

This is standard Lefty tactics.

Consider how Uncle Joe ran the Purges - if you didn't supply enough names, you became one of them.

BoboFromTexas said...

Just another wonderful aspect of the Hope&Change! that you voted for.

Ann Althouse said...

"There has been a 360 regarding surveillance by liberals from the 1960's. Back then, it was "big brother" and "privacy". Liberals have devolved to now they are the party of surveillance[Chicago has the most police cameras] and drones. They realize the genie is out of the bottle, it's never going back in, and they will use it to their advantage."

And there was a time when free speech was their dearest value. Or so they said. I was young. I believed that stuff.

rhhardin said...

Your neighbors know you oppose data mining.

Unknown said...

I believe this is an explanation for the increasing difference in polling and voting results. People are catching on that the left will punish any public expression against their position. (And people believe that polling answers can be public.) Therefore, for example, gay marriage support is a majority in polls, but loses in secret elections.

Phil 3:14 said...

Watching

Jay said...

And there was a time when free speech was their dearest value. Or so they said.

They "so they said" is the most important part there.

They also pretended to favor "privacy" a heck of a lot too. That was only a talking point.

Oh, and the EPA is now using flyovers for reasons that are unclear.

wef said...

Is the word "fascist" completely inappropriate here?

Paul said...

What is next? Soviet style block watchers that spy on their neighbors? Political block officers that give the party line?

Yea, considering how Unions work, it's the next logical step for desperate Democrats. Unions do alot of this already.

Steve Austin said...

Interesting comment from Unknown above. i.e. that conservative types who don't want harassment tell the pollers what they think is the politically correct answer.

That same dynamic I think exists at a number of higher ed institutions. I'd guess some graduates of UW Law would note that if they defend the politically correct version of things in the blue book final exam, their chances of getting a better grade increase.

At least that was my experience there, other than with Larry Church. I just basically went undercover with any conservative beliefs and my grades went up significantly.

CWJ said...

Ann, don't you remember the SDS etc al during the sixties? The left was shouting down the opposition in the name of free speech from the beginning.

Seeing Red said...

I hope these morons are reading this thread. What is it with credentialed people in the "Studies" area?

If your goal is to get me to vote, pat yourselves on the back. Just know my vote is 1 write-in vote for "Mickey Mouse."

You feel good because you "made" me vote, I feel good because I stuck it to the preening man.

Why would someone from Argentina make me vote? BUTT OUT or karma will happen.

Matthew Sablan said...

The surveillance effect seems like a smokescreen, since we know what happens when people know political donation history from the WSJ piece on Obama's enemy list and Proposition 8. Some people use the information to attack their political opponents, send death threats and boycott their businesses.

We know that publicizing this information can cause real harm to people. How can Harvard do that and claim it is ethical? The Big Brother aspect of it is disconcerting, but I really think the fact we know unhinged people do unhinged things with this information is the biggest problem.

CWJ said...

SDS et al. My stupid tablet keeps trying to automatically "correct" me.

Unknown said...

Isn't this voter intimidation under the the Voting Rights Act?

cubanbob said...

Lets disclose the names of everyone belonging to a union, everyone employed by government and everyone getting entitlements as well.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

And there was a time when free speech was their dearest value. Or so they said. I was young. I believed that stuff.

That was back in the days of Liberals - guys like Hubert Humphrey.

The Lefties exterminated them back in '68.

datatroll said...

This would frighten me into voting... AGAINST whatever such a group would be supporting.

Pogo said...

UW Madison's hawk cam is just practice.

ndspinelli said...

Pogo, You're correct. That camera can be re-focused to a dorm room and the breeding habits of students could be studied. Now, that would shut down the server!

The Drill SGT said...

As previous folks mentioned, all you need to demonstrate where this is headed is to look at the aftermath of the Prop 8 win in California.

Whether one supports of rejects gay marriage, the impact on our democracy of seeing contributors to political campaigns fired and receive death threats after purposeful outings of them, their families, employers and anyone who tried to shield them is frightening.

The Harvard study seems designed to measure the effectiveness of said tactics

Pogo said...

1984 and Brave New World were not meant to be used as how-to guides.

Alex said...

When the socialist enterprise is at stake, privacy is not a virtue.

Alex said...

What I don't like is how this blog is becoming an echo chamber. Maybe Titus is right, a wingnut factory!

Matthew Sablan said...

Alex: In this case, I think the distaste is universal. Even Daily Kos found the Wisconsin mailer icky and wrong, if I remember. So, instead of an echo chamber, let's call it bipartisan!

Matthew Sablan said...

Technically note: Should that be 180? 360 is a complete circle, right? So they'd be back where they started. I'm bad at math; now I'm even more confused about it!

cubanbob said...

Alex the blog isn't becoming a right wing nuthouse factory, its becoming an anti-fascist factory.

Patrick said...

I'd just like to see the creators of these mailings mount a defense. Own it, argue for it. Have some...stones.

Yeah, good luck with that.

PatCA said...

Our little burb asked citizens to report anonymously on neighbors who were using too much water during the drought. I myself got reported to the commissar! It was creepy.

I notice people still don't water during the forbidden hours even though the rules are not in effect.

The Surveillance Effect.

Larry J said...

Interesting comment from Unknown above. i.e. that conservative types who don't want harassment tell the pollers what they think is the politically correct answer

I just do the simple expedient of refusing to participate in any poll. I don't know those people. Why should I give them personal information that they can correlate to my home phone number. Type your phone number into Google and it'll provide links to your name and address. I believe in the private ballot. Pollsters can shove it.


Alex said...
What I don't like is how this blog is becoming an echo chamber. Maybe Titus is right, a wingnut factory!


Perhaps the Leftists are too busy calling other people names to participate any more. Maybe they're getting demoralized by the likely defeat in Wisconsin and the quite likely defeat in November. Maybe they're shocked that people actually disagree with them. They can shove it, too.

Doug said...

I appreciate Ms. Althouse giving this issue attention. I do not agree with the publication of the names of voters in political advertising. If nothing else, it shows bad taste.

However, I think Ms. Althouse may be overestimating the effect on voters that this technique may have.

Anyway I salute her advocacy on this issue.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

scf said...

Or so they said. I was young. I believed that stuff.

It's actually not hard to pick out a true liberal (classic liberal of the freedom variety) vs the modern command and control liberal of the Bloomberg variety, the "fake" liberal who does not actually believe in liberty.

If you take a given fake liberal, ask him if he believes in liberty and freedom. OF course he'll say yes.

Then ask his opinion about any of the current freedom issues. Talk about the Catholic lawsuit against Obamacare, talk about campaign finance laws, talk about Kelo, talk about Bloomberg and soda pop, talk about any of those issues. You'll find that in any specific example, the fake liberal will always side against free speech. every single time. He'll have 101 weak arguments (of the classic you can't yell fire in a crowded theatre variety) to explain why freedom must be restricted. ON EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE ISSUES. The fake liberal will never have any guiding principles. As any new issue pops up, he will always side against freedom. This never fails. You will never see a fake liberal advocating for freedom on any specific issue. It's always in the "general" sense. For any specific issue, there is always a convenient excuse. Some times they will even attempt to ridicule, like Pelosi with her "are you kidding" response to the question of Obamacare constitutionality.

crosspatch said...

Well, it is obvious that this is a play on the math. They know that statistically, Democrats are more likely not to have voted than Republicans so pressuring people who are less likely to vote to go to the polls would mean getting more Democrats to the polls.

David R. Graham said...

"That was back in the days of Liberals - guys like Hubert Humphrey.

The Lefties exterminated them back in '68."

True. And that was the true "Cronkite moment', when, on his monitor, he watched the rioters outside the convention and called them "thugs," with evident disgust. And he was powerless against them.

When all you have to throw at people is police, you've lost your position.

Bill M said...

Greater Wisconsin Political Fund

Michelle McGrorty, Executive Director
Eleven years working in Wisconsin politics, specializing in fundraising, campaign management and grass roots lobbying campaigns.

Kirk Brown, General Strategic & Media Consultant
Twenty years of experience, both nationally and in Wisconsin, as a pollster, gubernatorial aide, and campaign and message strategist.

Board members

Jim Youngerman, President
Jane Gellman, Vice President and Treasurer
Shannon Allen
Bill Christofferson
Joan Clark
David Cross
Greg Wesley

These are the people who should have their pics and addresses everywhere.

David R. Graham said...

"It's actually not hard to pick out a true liberal (classic liberal of the freedom variety) vs the modern command and control liberal of the Bloomberg variety, the "fake" liberal who does not actually believe in liberty."

True. However, note please leftist disenchantment with their chosen god. Where's "Code Pink" lately? Offended by murder by drone.

Dirty tricks such as exposed (yeah!) by this post are not from leftists. They're from for-profit poli-media shops/advert agencies applying goal-oriented, paid-for research by psycho-faculties.

Labors by Maslow, a UW-Madison alum, and Esalen, to name two, have beem applied to that end.

yashu said...

Our little burb asked citizens to report anonymously on neighbors who were using too much water during the drought. I myself got reported to the commissar! It was creepy.

I notice people still don't water during the forbidden hours even though the rules are not in effect.

The Surveillance Effect.


Yes. Otherwise known as the Panopticon-- an essential metaphor/ concept for Foucault in his analysis of "disciplinary" institutions and societies. One of the key elements of the Panopticon is that you don't know at any given moment whether or not you're being watched-- you just know (and are reminded) that you could be: which is what makes it "a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example."

Interesting hypothesis from Unknown and others here that this (let's call it the Panopticon effect) could account for some significant discrepancy between polling and voting results. As long as people still believe the privacy of the voting booth itself is sacrosanct… and that's the envelope that they're pushing here. (Certainly the Obama admin and its "enemies list" tactics, targetting and publicly shaming donors to the GOP or right-wing causes, and promising more of this kind of "transparency," is deploying the Panopticon effect.)

How ironic, and how chilling, that a Foucauldian concept which academics and the left employed to critique oppressive, "normalizing" apparatuses of governmental power (or so they said) is now an instrument being deployed by academics and the left -- as an oppressive, "normalizing" apparatus of governmental power.

PatCA said...

"The fake liberal will never have any guiding principles"

Very true. Liberals jump to a yes on every well meaning issue and then, if pressed, try to think of a principle to justify it. Usually it's "compassion" or something.

Conservatives start out from knowing a principle and then asking if the issue conforms to that.

It's the French Revolution versus the American Revolution every time.

PatCA said...

(These WV thingies are almost unreadable BTW)

248f1b18-adc4-11e1-a7b7-000bcdcb2996 said...

I believe that the 'divergence' effect between poll response and voting exists and is getting more pronounced, based on my (admittedly) limited soundings. This effect works in two ways - 1) as explained here, where conservatives don't wish to self-identify, and 2) independents/moderates who have become disillusioned by Obama and the D's, but don't want to admit it to themselves or others. Come November, the former will vote their ideology; the latter will, after asking themselves if they can accept 4 more years of Obama and the D's, decide that the status quo is unacceptable and will vote elsewhere (likely for Romney). I believe that this effect will be worth 2-4% against Obama (and likely for Romney).

There certainly is precedent. Remember Ortega and the Sandinistas in Nicarauga in the 1980's? They believed their polls (showing their popularity) and called for free elections. They lost decisively when the people had a chance to express their views through a secret ballot. If the election polls are a tossup, Romney will have a solid win. If Obama has a narrow edge, Romney will earn a narrow win. The Left immediately will rage that this is yet another stolen election, because the polls said something different than the result. At that point, what happens between Election Day and Inauguration Day is anyone's guess. But it will be interesting.

Dad29 said...

By the way, Prof. A., GWC has sent its minions out to "talk" with the non-voters.

See: http://dad29.blogspot.com/2012/06/barrett-brigades-are-out-loose.html

MarkD said...

Datatroll had it half right. This would anger me into voting against, even if I were a potential supporter.

You get what you tolerate.

Seerak said...

"There has been a 360 regarding surveillance by liberals from the 1960's. Back then, it was "big brother" and "privacy".

Well, on the one hand, seeing as a "360" is a complete rotation that leaves you right where you were in the first place, this is an apt description of Leftists; they are now what they have always been.

And there was a time when free speech was their dearest value. Or so they said. I was young. I believed that stuff.

On the other hand, in the 1960's most people calling themselves "liberals" were actually, you know, liberals to some extent, not the Leftist pod people you see under that hollowed-out label today.

EMD said...

I am currently listening to 1984 on CD in the car on the way to and fro work.

It's the saddest story I've ever heard.

SH said...

Ann Althouse said...

"And there was a time when free speech was their dearest value. Or so they said. I was young. I believed that stuff."

Did they really or did people fill in the blanks to hear it that way? Example: I was reading a history of the Berkeley free speech movement and the actual texts only show they were fighting for their own rights. They didn't tend to 'internationalize' it and make it a fight for anyone's free speech in general (from what I read).

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
armydoogie said...

I just want to take a moment to say that this is the most intelligent collection of response comments I have ever read anywhere. I congratulate you all. You really raise some interesting questions, and put a very point on the discussion of liberty. I am a "liberal conservative." I don't find the two terms to be diametrically opposite. "Progressive" is the opposite of "conservative" and "Statist" is the opposite of "liberal." I am neither progressive (furthest from it), nor "Statist" (which is what the Democratic Party becomes when it assumes "power" in the government), therefore I am a "liberal conservative." I am also known as a "constitutional conservative" or "classical liberal" (take your pick). Again, I am proud to associate with the likes of people who provide response comments here.

SH said...

yashu said...

"How ironic, and how chilling, that a Foucauldian concept which academics and the left employed to critique oppressive, "normalizing" apparatuses of governmental power (or so they said) is now an instrument being deployed by academics and the left -- as an oppressive, "normalizing" apparatus of governmental power."

First off; this feels weird. I'm not the only conservative to quote Foucault... Second; the panopticon is not just a technique. It is the part of the thought process of the age. The various structuralists make the same error/s as Heidegger IMO. They properly identify errors in western thought / logic but then totally mess up seeing the next obvious shoe drop. They see these errors clearly because they are themselves immersed in the middle of them. Ergo their social solutions, to them or anything, should be regarded with suspicion.