This something of a Notebook Post, for now, The sheer amount of Data and analysis on the Dominic Cummings Blog is a Treasure trove and one really wonders where to start.
People paid little attention to the renegotiation and did not really start tuning in until the last 3 months and many millions only tuned in over the last 3 weeks. Much of the spread of messages therefore comes mainly because attention is ‘artificially’ switched on, not because the messages are particularly brilliant or interesting (usually in politics they are not). Even given this artificial spurt of attention you can see that the vast majority pay much more close attention to football and the entertainment industry than to politics even a month before ‘the most important vote in 40 years’. This lack of attention means that to communicate anything to millions of people you need a) extreme focus and simplification and b) to think extremely hard about what people really i) care about and ii) know about and are likely to be able to understand. Campaigns can ride waves but they rarely make them. Our success did not come from creating a wave but from riding powerful waves as I have explained.
Campaign data spans roughly 11 orders
orders of magnitude
10-2 – cost of a single paid digital ad ‘impression’ ≈ $10-2, or 1 cent (~$3.6×106 = ~3×108 paid
impressions during 10 week campaign). NB. ‘impressions’ can be a very misleading metric unless
you know exactly what you are referring to and why. Each company has its own definition and they
often change. Companies have an interest in defining them in such a way as to inflate apparent
audiences (see below). We paid about £0.02 per text to send half a million texts on 22-23 June.
10-1 – cost of getting someone to watch all of a paid short video ≈ $10-1, ~9 cents.
100 – number of basic VL plans: we launched October 2015 with a simple focus on a psychologically
compelling message based on the NHS and stuck to it because the data supported it.
10-1 – number of people who controlled important parts of the official campaign including Stephen
Parkinson, Paul Stephenson, Nick Varley, Victoria Woodcock, and Henry de Zoete.
10-2 – number of VL HQ staff for the official 10 week campaign ≈ 100; there were another ~40 paid
Ground staff (not working at HQ) of whom 90% were hired after 1 January 2016.
10-3 – number of full or part-time people (paid) plus unpaid part-time staff officially working for VL
including 641 constituency coordinators who organised local volunteers. VL had ~1-2,000 campaign
sessions per week across the country over the last 10 weeks (gradually accelerating).
10-4 – number of activists who did something useful roughly every week ≈ 12,000 (31,000 total
10-5 – money spent on traditional advertising ≈ 300K.
106 – money spent on social media advertising ≈ £3.5m. Number of a) emails collected + b) mobile
numbers ≈ 106. In the last three weeks activists were delivering leaflets at a rate of over 2.5
million per week. VL activists knocked on about 2 million doors.
10-7 – total amount of money raised and spent £13.7m. Number of targeted GOTV leaflets ≈ 16m.
108 – total number of leaflets delivered by VL ≈ 120 million, half via activists and half via post.
10-9 – number of ‘impressions’ served by VL digital communications was ~1.5 billion of which
Facebook was about 1B. This does not include web traffic (see caveats above).
Few things caused me more trouble than the debates organised by the three broadcasters. The reason is simple: it hyped the virulent SW1 ‘TV derangement syndrome’ to even greater levels than normal. Everybody wanted to be the star of the big BBC debate on 21 June. The feeling was so powerful it drove some people potty (a few joined the January coup because they thought I would not put them up for this event). Many characters actively did not want Boris to join the campaign because they knew it reduced their chances of being the star. Of course, they did not reason like this to me or, probably, to themselves. Instead, they argued that ‘Boris is only in it for himself, the audience will smell his lack of authenticity’; ‘we need the best debaters Dominic, not the biggest stars’; ‘we need someone up there who has really lived with the issues for decades Dominic’, and so on. Some on our Board, including Bernard Jenkin, said that Boris joining the campaign would be ‘a disaster’ and were cross with me for trying to persuade him. Three exceptions were Boris, Gove, and Gisela. None of them wanted to touch the debates and Boris, unlike those many jealous souls who assumed he, like they, would want to do it said ‘I’m rubbish at these things and I hate them get someone else.’ They only agreed to do them after I put them under extreme pressure, moral blackmail etc.
My feeling was that the overall effect of the debates was net good for us despite Farage doing ITV. We finally got the MPs singing the same script as the leaflets and marketing – ‘let’s take back control’ echoed around the studios. The flaws in Cameron’s argument poked through his performances. Millions saw he had no serious answer on immigration in general and his answers on Turkey looked dishonest and evasive. By then he and Osborne had gone full Spinal Tap and cranked up their warnings to ‘volume 11’ every day. Our focus groups showed that this was now undermining their own core message and people were starting to laugh – ‘now he’s saying it’ll be World War 3, what a joke, I don’t buy it, I’m going for Leave’ etc. By the time of the big 3v3 on the 21st, the IN side had lost the plot (partly over the murder) and wasted a lot of time babbling about ‘lies’ and tweeting multicoloured broken hearts at each other in a classic example of the better educated succumbing to hysteria while the worse-educated largely ignored the hysteria. Attacking Boris the way they did was a mistake and could only have worked if he had blown up, but we attacked him much harder than they did in the practices so by the time the real thing happened he dealt with it coolly (‘Train hard, fight easy’). 7 June ITV Cameron v Farage: 4.2m 9 June ITV 3 versus 3: 3.2m 15 June BBC Question Time, Gove 3.7m 19 June BBC Question Time, DC 3.85m 21 June BBC Wembley 3 v 3 4m
7 June ITV Cameron v Farage: 4.2m
9 June ITV 3 versus 3: 3.2m
15 June BBC Question Time, Gove 3.7m
19 June BBC Question Time, DC 3.85m
21 June BBC Wembley 3 v 3 4m
Bad Boys of Brexit
Farage, Banks and Bannon. They are some of the well-known Bad Boys of Brexit. But there are many more. The Bad Boys of Brexit are an unholy alliance. They are global Money Men💰, small-state Regulation Burners🔥 and people with highly questionable Russian Connections 🇷🇺, some of whom have undermined the very foundations of democracy.
Matthew Ridley Source: http://bit.ly/2mJGDxA Dominic Cummings Jeremy Hosking Steve Bannon. Photo credit: Don Irvine http://bit.ly/2D6Il68 Alexander Nix Jim Mellon Richard Tice Matthew Elliot Photo credit: http://bit.ly/2FxfXYD
Jacob Rees Mogg Michael Gove Robert Mercer Source http://bit.ly/2mKio22 alexander NixPhoto credit: http://bit.ly/2CTzf8H Nigel Lawson Photo Credit: Flickr http://bit.ly/2mlS65o Crispin Odey Lord Guthrie Raheem Kassam
Nigel Farage. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore Flickr Arron Banks Andy Wigmore Boris Johnson Paterson Ashcroft Liam Fox George Cotterell Photo credit: http://bit.ly/2EAML1A
These are the men (for they are predominantly men) who bankrolled and facilitated Brexit – and, in some cases, stood to make very large personal profits from it. They include some of the very wealthiest members of a global elite.
The Bad Boys of Brexit alliance came together before and during the referendum campaign. It attracted far-right ideologues, climate change deniers, tax-dodging foreign billionaires, specialists in voter manipulation, a convicted fraudster and a political operative described by David Cameron as “a career psychopath”.
Here we have compiled a list of these Bad Boys.
I will write more about the campaign once the first wave of books is published.
PS. Do not believe the rubbish peddled by Farage and the leave.EU team about social media. E.g. a) They boasted publicly that they paid hundreds of thousands of pounds for over half a million Facebook ‘Likes’ without realising that b) Facebook’s algorithms no longer optimised news feeds for Likes (it is optimised for paid advertising). Leave.EU wasted hundreds of thousands just as many big companies spent millions building armies of Likes that were rendered largely irrelevant by Facebook’s algorithmic changes. This is just one of their blunders. Vote Leave put our money into targeted paid adverts, not buying Likes to spin stories to gullible hacks, MPs, and donors. Media organisations should have someone on the political staff who is a specialist in data or have a route to talk to their organisation’s own data science teams to help spot snake oil merchants.
PPS. If you are young, smart, and interested in politics, think very hard before studying politics / ‘political science’ / PPE at university. You will be far better off if you study maths or physics. It will be easy to move into politics later if you want to and you will have more general skills with much wider application and greater market value. PPE does not give such useful skills – indeed, it actually causes huge problems as it encourages people like Cameron and Ed Balls to ‘fool themselves’ and spread bad ideas with lots of confidence and bluffing. You can always read history books later but you won’t always be able to learn maths. If you have these general skills, then you will be much more effective than the PPE-ers you will compete against. In a few years, this will be more obvious as data science will be much more visible. A new interdisciplinary degree is urgently needed to replace PPE for those who want to go into politics. It should include the basics of modelling and involve practical exposure to people who are brilliant at managing large complex organisations.
PPPS. One of the projects that the Gove team did in the DfE was funding the development of a ‘Maths for Presidents’ course, in the same spirit as the great Berkeley course ‘Physics for Presidents’, based on ideas of Fields Medallist Tim Gowers. The statistics of polling would be a good subject for this course. This course could have a big cultural effect over 20 years if it is supported wisely.
The New Brino Math.