Fred Thompson; Is He Changing His Tune? And How Does He Compare with Governor Mitt Romney? Before and After NextStage Analysis of Campaign Messaging Styles

[[updating lost posts in prep for Reading Virtual Minds Volume 2: Experience and Expectation]]

Frequent reader and correspondent WindKiller posed a question on the Senator Fred Thompson and the Marketing of a Presidential Hopeful: A NextStage Analysis of the Fred Thompson for President Homepage entry and I responded on that post and in a phone conversation that I’d get back to him on how much is encapsulated in NextStage’s Rich Personae (it’s now our PersonaScope and is included with Membership).

I wanted to do that by tying it to a before and after analysis of Senator Fred Thompson’s campaign site. It’s always fascinating to see how somebody changes their messaging after an announcement.

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The casual observer won’t notice much different between the site as it was on 1 Sept 07 (on the right) and how it appeared on both 5 Sept 07 and 6 Sept 07. That’s a good thing because in politics, it’s the positive and familiar that wins votes.

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This is the 5 Sept 07 homepage. There’s the naturally occuring changes in content that you’d expect on any high traffic site. Both the 1 Sept 07 and the 5 Sept 07 homepages are designed for the V8 Rich Personae.

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This is Senator Fred Thompson’s campaign site on 6 Sept 07. The changes are more obvious to the casual observer and again, you’d expect them to be after a major announcement. What is interesting to me is that the site is now using a V7 Rich Personae. This was the personae used by Governor Mitt Romney. It was Senator Thompson’s use of the V8 Rich Personae and its “You’re doing a good job. Let me show you something that might help you out.” versus Governor Romney’s V7 message’s “You’re doing it wrong, do it my way. It’s better.” that I thought would separate Senator Thompson from the pack.

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Before I forget, the other modification to Senator Thompson’s site is a new “prepage” before you get to what most would consider the real homepage. This is something we saw often during the 2004 campaigns. From a consumer perspective it’s not something I would encourage. This page, encountered before all others, essentially asks the visitor to buy the product before learning if the product is a good match for what ails them. The assumption on Senator Thompson’s staff may be that he’s so well known at this point that anybody coming to the site is coming to join. I’m not so sure. This page, by the way, is designed for a K7 Rich Personae, ie, it has a good, strong, emotional appeal. Just what you’d want if you thought people already knew about you and you wanted them to act in your behalf.

This gets us to what else is encapsulated in NextStage’s Rich Personae. NextStage’s Rich Personae also reveal most prominent messages, strongest messages, messages in the order they appear to the non-conscious mind, … It’s pretty…um…rich.

Also, as you begin to get deeper and deeper into the Rich Personae system, you’ll learn that the strongest message on, for example, a young female V7 is different from a mature, male V7.

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Here, Senator Thompson’s strongest message is “Compare me to others and you will see that I can put us on a path and bring structure to this country. You can count on it.” Governor Mitt Romney’s strongest message is very similar with two significant edits; “[no comparison desired or implied] You will see that I can put us on a path and bring structure to this place. Are you with me, yes or no?” Perhaps Senator Thompson sees Governor Romney as having the audience he wants, hence the deep messaging is the same. The substantive difference between the two sites is that Governor Romney, if he were talking to you, would be saying his message twice as loud as Senator Thompson.

Back in the day when Senator Thompson’s site was designed for a V8 Rich Personae, its message was similar except for the missing introductory call to comparison;”[no comparison desired or implied] You will see that I can put us on a path and bring structure to this place. You can count on it.

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Senator Fred Thompson and the Marketing of a Presidential Hopeful: A NextStage Analysis of the Fred Thompson for President Homepage

[[updating lost posts in prep for Reading Virtual Minds Volume 2: Experience and Expectation]]

(yes, I’m still exploring that SEO/SEM thing)

I’ve been thinking for a while that NextStage should do an analysis of Senator and actor Fred Thompson’s campaign site. What’s been stopping me is that he’s not officially announced he’s running for President and he doesn’t actually have an official campaign site that I know of (remember, I’m remarkably out of the loop on politics). The reason I decided to run an analysis is because I’d heard he was going to make his official announcement sometime this coming week.

I went to because they list official campaign sites and found I’mWithFred listed as his official site, so I was off and at it.

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Here is Senator and actor Fred Thompson’s official campaign site homepage as it appears today, 1 Sept 07. We analyzed it using NextStage’s TargetTrack (it’s now included in our Membership package) tool, as we do with all such things.

What got me right off the bat is that this homepage uses a V8 Rich Persona. This got my attention because way back in Feb ’07 we analyzed Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign website and found it had a V7 Rich Persona. One of the most obvious differences between the two is that Governor Romney’s messaging was originally designed for individuals who “…like to talk things over with a knowledgeable person who needs to point out the negative aspects of a decision in order to be taken seriously.” Senator Thompson’s messaging is designed for individuals who “…like to talk things over with an authority figure (real or imagined) who needs to point out the positive aspects of a decision in order to be taken seriously.

This difference is telling in how these two campaigns perceive who their candidate is and what that candidate’s strengths are on a personal (hence “Persona” level).

First, I do note that Governor Romney has changed his messaging style since Feb ’07. With that in mind, Governor Romney originally wanted people to perceive him as someone who could show them the error of their ways and set them on the right path. Senator Thompson is using a very different psychological strategy to gain voters; he wants people to see him as an an experienced person who can help them achieve more.

In more obvious terms it would be phrased this way; Governor Romney was saying to voters, “You’re doing it wrong, do it my way. It’s better.” while Senator Thompson’s message is “You’re doing a good job. Let me show you something that might help you out.”

We’ll be watching to see if Senator Thompson’s messaging changes once he officially starts his campaign.

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Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th edition

It’s with great pleasure and a little pride that we announce Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION.

Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History, 4th edThat “4th EDITION” part is important. We know lots of people are waiting for Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation and it’s next in the queue.

But until then…

Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION is about 100 pages longer than the previous editions and about 10$US cheaper. Why? Because Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation is next in the queue.

Some Notes About This Book

I’m actually writing Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation right now. In the process of doing that, we realized we needed to add an index to this book. We also wanted to make a full color ebook version available to NextStage Members (it’s a download on the Member welcome page. And if you’re not already a member, what are you waiting for?)

In the process of making a full color version, we realized we’d misplaced some of the original slides and, of course, the charting software had changed since we originally published this volume (same information, different charting system). Also Susan and Jennifer “The Editress” Day wanted the images standardized as much as possible.

We included an Appendix B – Proofs (starting on page 187) for the curious and updated Appendix C – Further Readings (starting on page 236). We migrated a blog used for reference purposes so there may be more or less reference sources and modified some sections with more recent information.

So this edition has a few more pages and a few different pages. It may have an extra quote or two floating around.

You also need to know that Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History is a “Let’s explore the possibilities” book, not a “How to do it” book. As such, it deals with how NextStage did it (not to mention things that happened along the way). It does not explain how you can do it. This book’s purpose is to open a new territory to you and give you some basic tools for exploration.

There are no magic bullets, quick fixes, simple demonstrations, et cetera, that will turn you into jedis, gurus, kings, queens, samurai, rock stars, mavens, heroes, thought leaders, so on and so forth.

How to Do It starts with Volume II: Experience and Expectation and continues through future volumes in this series. We’ve included a Volume II: Experience and Expectation preview with a How to Do It example on page 302 so you can take a peek if that’s your interest.

That noted, I’m quite sure that you won’t get the full benefit of future volumes without reading this one because unless you’ve read this one you won’t understand the territory you’re exploring in those future volumes.

Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History, 4th edThat’s Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION. It’s so good and so good for you! Buy a copy or two today!

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The Complete “Slew of emails about my political postings” Arc

[[Note this is another blog arc, five posts long, all here for your reading pleasure. Thank The Mice who save you from going click-happy.]]

Slew of emails about my political postings (#1)

Several regular readers emailed me with their thoughts on my political postings. I’m going to share some of them over the next few weeks, starting with this one and offered without comment.

It’s the cover of The Economist from November 6th-12th, 2004:

Cover of 'The Economist', November 6th-12th, 2004

Slew of emails about my political postings (#2)

Obama/Biden vs McCain/Palin, what if things were switched around?…..think about it. Would the country’s collective point of view be different? Could racism be the culprit?

Ponder the following:

What if the Obamas had paraded five children across the stage, including a three month old infant and an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter?

What if John McCain was a former president of the Harvard Law Review?

What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?

What if McCain had only married once, and Obama was a divorcee?

What if Obama was the candidate who left his first wife after a severe disfiguring car accident, when she no longer measured up to his standards?

What if Obama had met his second wife in a bar and had a long affair while he was still married?

What if Michelle Obama was the wife who not only became addicted to pain killers but also acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?

What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?

What if Obama had been a member of the Keating Five? (The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s.)

What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

What if Obama couldn’t read from a teleprompter?

What if Obama was the one who had military experience that included discipline problems and a record of crashing seven planes?

What if Obama was the one who was known to display publicly, on many occasions, a serious anger management problem?

What if Michelle Obama’s family had made their money from beer distribution?

What if the Obamas had adopted a white child?

You could easily add to this list. If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are?

This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.

Educational Background:

Barack Obama:

Columbia University – B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in

International Relations.

Harvard – Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden:

University of Delaware – B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.

Syracuse University College of Law – Juris Doctor (J.D.)


John McCain:

United States Naval Academy – Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin:

Hawaii Pacific University – 1 semester

North Idaho College – 2 semesters – general study

University of Idaho – 2 semesters – journalism

Matanuska-Susitna College – 1 semester

University of Idaho – 3 semesters – B.A. in Journalism

Education isn’t everything, but this is about the two highest offices in the land as well as our standing in the world. You make the call.

Slew of emails about my political postings (#3)

The following was sent to me with the heading “Oldie, but particularly germane today, what with this whole ‘…spread the wealth around’ idiocy”. My response (letting you know ahead of time) was

Interesting read and completely erroneous. Many extra points to anyone who can pick out the flaws (I hope they’re obvious!) in this piece.

Also, please never send anything like this to someone in the field (


Something they don’t teach at Business School (or in Washington ).

Our Tax System Explained: Bar Stool Economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. ‘Since you are all such good customers,’ he said, ‘I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.’ Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free.

But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

‘I only got a dollar out of the $20,’declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, ‘but he got $10!’

‘Yeah, that’s right,’ exclaimed the fifth man. ‘I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I got’

‘That’s true!!’ shouted the seventh man. ‘Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!’

‘Wait a minute,’ yelled the first four men in unison. ‘We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!’

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
University of Georgia

For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

Remember folks, extra bonus points for people pointing out the flaws in this one.

Slew of emails about my political postings (#4)

Let me say before I go further that I’m not suggesting people vote one way or another. I am fascinated by what people are sending me, though, as it’s an indication of how people are thinking. The more that is sent to me that does lean one way or another, the number of people sending material, etc., does reveal a great deal about what and how people are thinking.

That’s what I’m sharing here; other people’s thoughts, not my own.

Let’s start with some of the artwork I received…

This one was entitled “Next Season on Dancing with the Stars!”

Also, I was offered the following note and interesting read:

Heard this mentioned on R. Limbaugh. Don’t think Rush knew who he was. I did.
BTW, OSC says he’s a Democrat. Nice compact piece, I thought.

[[There were a bunch of images in the original post, alas, now lost to antiquity…unless you have them and can email them to us.]]

Slew of emails about my political postings (#5)

One reader sent me Balls and Urns, which I thought a worthy read on many levels.

T’was the day before elections (Slew of emails #6, Adam Zand’s Big Shoe, Population Dynamics, …)

Lots to cover today, starting with

Adam Zand’s Really Big Shoe (Join in)
Host: Adam Zand – ThisDudeAbides (dot) Zand (at)

Episode: EPISODE23 – Adam Zand’s Really Big Shoe

The world will fundamentally change on Election Day – The Big Shoe talks to Joseph Carrabis for a preview and a review of political social media efforts and effects. Carrabis is Chairman and Chief Research Officer of NextStage Evolution, LLC, NextStage Global LTD, and a founder of KnowledgeNH, NH Business Development Network and the Center for Semantic Excellence. He’s a Senior Research Fellow and Advisory Board Member to the Society for New Communications Research and frequent contributor to You’ve heard the pundits and the pollsters but what does Joseph’s online predictive crystal ball tell about how close the election is (; how messages are being received and re-interpreted and if O.J. Simpson is really a factor – We’ll catch up on Joseph’s consulting business ( and share best practices for marketers in the fields of predictive intelligence, persuasion engineering and interactive analytics. On the day before the election, Joseph Carrabis and The Really Big Shoe will reveal what’s behind the voting booth curtain.

Call ID: 18410


Does your chosen candidate motivate you to vote? Then Be Careful…

Next a note from NextStage’s and others’ research: It seems that people who are best able to motivate others are also most likely to mislead them. NextStage did some research regarding how to motivate people to act favorably (for lack of a better term, “convert”) online and made an unexpected discovery. We then went looking through the literature to learn if others had discovered anything similar. Sure enough, two Colgate University researchers had learned much the same thing (Dominance and Deception in Children and Adults: Are Leaders the Best Misleaders?).

An Email Response to my Comment Exchange with Tex

Frequent reader Tex and I exchanged comments on Slew of emails about my political postings (#4), the gist of which was that I hadn’t received any emails that I could decidedly say were “con-Obama, pro-McCain”.

Someone was reading (and thank you for doing so) and sent me the following:

Subject: obama stealing the election
To: friends (at) foxnews (dot) com
Date: Sunday, November 2, 2008, 7:35 AM
Hi guys’s
I watch you every day. This morning while watching I decided to try to donate to Obama using my real credit card with a fictious name and address and it sailed thru, try it it is true this is how he is raising all his money

I have no idea if one can actually provide false information so on and so forth.

Finally, voting by population percentages…

I wrote in Governor Palin’s (and everybody else’s) Popularity that the Democratic ticket was doing a better job at getting its message across in a way that the largest population could respond to easily and rapidly.

While I’ll stand behind my statement I do need to qualify/quantify it a bit.

[[Alas, another image lost to antiquity]]

A party’s ability to capture a given age demographic is important, yes, and the population of that demographic, the likelihood of individuals within that age demographic to vote, …, all play a role. The chart here takes into account the populations (not how many individuals within each population will vote, only the populations within those demographics) and indicates that Senator Obama will win the election by just over 2.5% of the population.


The guestimates above are based on 2007 population projections that are, in turn, based on the 2000 national census. I don’t know how the population is divided (no pun intended).

I had thought I’d have time to do a state by state breakdown today and no, I don’t. Sorry, folks.

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Finally, Voting

In this post:


B) Nature votes for Obama

The journal Nature, which has no vote and is not endorsing anyone, would vote for Obama if it could according to their America’s choice editorial.

C) Protention versus Expectation in the Political Process

At the end of yesterday’s interview with Adam Zand, I mentioned NextStage’s research into Protention.

Protention is to Expectation what Hope and Emotion are to Belief and Logic. Protention is what we really, really, really want to have happen, Expectation is what we think will really happen. Obama’s message — Change — is a protentious message. Voters (I’ll offer) expect some kind of change to occur regardless of who gets into office.

However, voters (as far as we can determine) are expressing a greater mythic hope that Senator Obama will radically change things as opposed to the belief that Senator McCain will bring in change, yes, and that his form of change will pretty much be business as usual (not meant as a statement that he’ll continue the current President Bush’s policies and agenda, only that politics, the political process and the nation will pretty much continue with different shades of gray rather than an obvious and intentional shift in direction).

D) The Neighborhood Bonfire as a Demonstration of Political Anxieties

I also mentioned in that interview being at a neighborhood gathering on Sunday night and being amazed at the amount of misinformation present. There were people at this usually fun-filled gathering (a firepit/bonfire, something I’ve written about in You can Google the Stars now and KBar’s Findings: In Event of Moon Disaster) that still believed Senator Obama is a Muslim (he’s not as far as I know) and that, by god!, they’re not going to have a Muslim in the White House. I honestly don’t know which of the two opinions is worse. Susan and I did find it amusing that the people who consumed the most alcohol (nobody ever gets obnoxiously drunk at these bonfires. Those of us who do imbibe on the far side tend to be quiet about it, falling asleep in our chairs next to the fire. For those of us in Nova Scotia, it allows us some pleasures beyond the usual cow-tipping) were die-hard Republicans and that they (by our standards) became a tad overly assertive/demonstrative.

A nod to an unspoken anxiety regarding the elections? Perhaps.

E) Political Variables

We spoke about race playing a factor in the elections. For those with an interest, this can be thought of as a study of system versus estimator variables.

System variables are those that a given system has control over. Instructions on how to vote (place, how to use a voting machine, times to vote, …) are system variables. They have a binary aspect to them. You either show up or not at the polling station. You either use the voting mechanisms correctly or not, so on and so forth.

Estimator variables are those that add the “fuzziness” to things. For example, someone says “race” doesn’t play a role in their decision making process yet demonstrates prejudicial behavior (such as at the bonfire mentioned above). This is an example of an estimator variable. The concept of “race” does play a role, how much it plays a role is the question. Determining the binary aspects and values of estimator variables is what NextStage does incredibly well (yes, a plug, I’ll admit).

F) Cognitive Interviews

NextStage does perform “person on the street” types of interviews as required and as requested and agreed to by the client. Most often these occur when we’re validating a model we’re about to start using in our online tools. As mentioned in the interview, if you can determine what we’re actually testing for from what we’re “interviewing” about, give me a call. We might have a job for you.

Anyway, I mentioned in the interview that we had done some “person on the street” interviews in NH and NJ (“Hillary is piloting the space shuttle and Sarah Palin is riding a bicycle”). NextStage uses a modified Cognitive Interview method developed by R. Edward Geiselman and Ronald P. Fisher in the 1980s.

G) Space Shuttles versus Bicycles

I also offered earlier in my posts that the “Hillary is piloting the space shuttle and Sarah Palin is riding a bicycle” line was a real giveaway as to how these two women were placed in people’s consciousness. During the interview I shared that Senator Clinton was piloting and Governor Palin was riding, an indication that Senator Clinton is in control and in command, things Governor Palin is not. Also, Senator Clinton was on a first name basis, an indication she is familiar and an equal whereas Governor Palin is Sarah Palin, an object, therefore something strange, other, and definitely not a friend or equal.

H) Democrats win by Compositing

As much as the nation is divided, my suspicion is that the Democrats will win the majority of races they’re in. The reason for this suspicion is based on what NextStage calls Compositing. Again, this is something I referenced in the interview. Compositing happens in car dealerships (as an example) when you go in and buy what’s on the lot rather than special ordering; you purchase “a vehicle” when you purchase off the lot versus purchasing “these tires, this radio, this engine, this transmission, …” when you special order. The composite has all the features you want so special ordering isn’t in the mix. It’s much easier to sell a composite than it is to sell a special order because (as mentioned above) lots of estimator variables come into play with special orders.

The Democrats have been able to create a single buzzword/tagline — Change — that resonated and stayed with the population as a whole. The downside to such a single concept tagline is that it will most often create a binary response in the public’s mind; you either want change or you don’t.

This is where compositing comes in. The Democrats have been able to push a concept of very large and very great change into the public’s consciousness because “change” can be personally identified in this election as “President G.W. Bush”. The number of people who are anti-Bush is amazing.

Therefore, the Democrats have been able to create a “single” issue election around the concept of “change” and point to what “change” means; get rid of President Bush and what has happened to the country during his Presidency.

This ability to single-ize issues has been something the Republicans have been traditionally good at (most obviously since 2000) and the Democrats traditionally bad at (again, since 2000). This election cycle the tides have turned and the Democrats have created the composite — the easier sell — because they’ve been able to associate “change” with the a single issue.

The Republicans haven’t been able to do this. Do they want change? Sure, but how much? I don’t see lots of Republicans playing buddy-buddy with President Bush in their ads (in fact, here in NH the incumbent Senator John Sununu is endorsing ads that show his challenger, Governor Jeanne Shaheen, buddy-buddy with President Bush’s policies. That’s a local indication of how anathemic association with President Bush has become).

Thus the Republicans have had the much harder, special order sell this campaign season. “Yes, I’ll purchase Republican but I want less of Iraq and more of Afghanistan, more financial regulation but lower taxes, much more health but no penalties for moving my policies from here to there, …” and each of these “mores” and “lesses” is an estimator. Don’t match your sales pitch to your audience’s estimator values? Then you don’t make the sale.

But for the Democrats, it’s simply “change”, an easy sell because “democrats” aren’t “republicans” so change, just by force of numbers, has to occur.

And let me write again A) Please vote.

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