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The real value of Paul Manafort’s polling data

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David Measer is a senior vice president at the advertising agency RPA and an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications.

The goal of advertising, like politics, is to persuade someone somewhere to buy something, whether it’s a product or a candidate. It’s not a coincidence that we both call our persuasive pitches the same thing: a campaign. And at the heart of every campaign is data about markets, the competition and, most of all, the potential customers.

When Paul Manafort allegedly shared “polling data” with Konstantin V. Kilimnik, a Russian businessman and former military interpreter who the FBI says has “ties to a Russian intelligence service ,” many Americans may have shrugged and thought “so what?” To them, polling data is the result of simple surveys that tell us “52 percent of people favor Candidate A,” or “72 percent of Democrats oppose Policy B.” It’s not. It’s far more detailed, and the way advertisers and political campaigns use it has serious consequences.

Polling data is the same contextual business intelligence that big brands use in their marketing activities, including advertising. It’s the raw material we use in the battle to win hearts and minds, and to get people to choose one product or service over another — to vote........

© Washington Post