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Customer Review

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The evolution of political science, August 7, 2012
This review is from: The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns (Hardcover)
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This book should have been sub-titled "The evolution of political science over the last 100 years." A bit windy and repetitive (as far as the theme goes), the book documents how analytical types finally made inroads into political campaigning, and how they could have been more helpful all along--if only people had listened to them.

Overall, the feeling I got after reading each chapter was "same story as the last chapter, but this time the analysts gained a little more credibility than the previous election cycle."

That said, I do believe everyone involved in campaigning for public office or ballot measures ought to read this, especially if they want the best chance at winning. If you fit into that category, or if you're thinking of getting into politics, you'll gain tremendous insights into the past 100 years of campaigning, and you can learn from other people's mistakes (and what the winners did right). A big golden nugget for me was learning that what helped you win "last time" won't help you win "this time." However, that same message could have been conveyed in a shorter book.

Interestingly, the day I was reading the book to write this review, I saw a news headline that read "Obama campaign deploys data mining operation." Given that this book reveals the depth to which Obama relied on microtargeting techniques in 2008, and and given that the book also outlines how analysts can mine increasingly detailed data with each election cycle, I can only imagine the depth to which Obama's campaign is excavating, sorting, and using data to direct their actions in 2012.

Business Application: As a business person, I was hoping that some of the practices described in the book would help for developing marketing campaigns in the business world. Alas, no such luck. As the author points out, the intense methods described are for running a one-time political campaign that culminates in one desired action from a person (a "vote") on one particular day. After reviewing the techniques described, I don't think they would transfer economically into business. Sure, making decisions based on target market data permeates the text, but the techniques described are for political campaigns.

With that, the book probably wouldn't have much appeal for anyone outside of politics. I found myself wanting to lend it to a friend of mine who's heavily involved in state and national political campaigns.

Overall the book is a little too repetitive in its theme, and therefore it's a tad too long.
I'd give it four stars if you're in politics and have never studied microtargeting before, because you'll learn a lot. I give it three and a half stars for the rest of us, which I round down to three (Amazon meaning = "it's okay") because the book is about 20 percent longer than it needs to be.
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