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September 2013 Influencing elections with statistics: Targeting voters with logistic regression trees
Thomas Rusch, Ilro Lee, Kurt Hornik, Wolfgang Jank, Achim Zeileis
Ann. Appl. Stat. 7(3): 1612-1639 (September 2013). DOI: 10.1214/13-AOAS648


In political campaigning substantial resources are spent on voter mobilization, that is, on identifying and influencing as many people as possible to vote. Campaigns use statistical tools for deciding whom to target (“microtargeting”). In this paper we describe a nonpartisan campaign that aims at increasing overall turnout using the example of the 2004 US presidential election. Based on a real data set of 19,634 eligible voters from Ohio, we introduce a modern statistical framework well suited for carrying out the main tasks of voter targeting in a single sweep: predicting an individual’s turnout (or support) likelihood for a particular cause, party or candidate as well as data-driven voter segmentation. Our framework, which we refer to as LORET (for LOgistic REgression Trees), contains standard methods such as logistic regression and classification trees as special cases and allows for a synthesis of both techniques. For our case study, we explore various LORET models with different regressors in the logistic model components and different partitioning variables in the tree components; we analyze them in terms of their predictive accuracy and compare the effect of using the full set of available variables against using only a limited amount of information. We find that augmenting a standard set of variables (such as age and voting history) with additional predictor variables (such as the household composition in terms of party affiliation) clearly improves predictive accuracy. We also find that LORET models based on tree induction beat the unpartitioned models. Furthermore, we illustrate how voter segmentation arises from our framework and discuss the resulting profiles from a targeting point of view.


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Thomas Rusch. Ilro Lee. Kurt Hornik. Wolfgang Jank. Achim Zeileis. "Influencing elections with statistics: Targeting voters with logistic regression trees." Ann. Appl. Stat. 7 (3) 1612 - 1639, September 2013.


Published: September 2013
First available in Project Euclid: 3 October 2013

zbMATH: 06237190
MathSciNet: MR3127961
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/13-AOAS648

Keywords: Campaigning , classification tree , get-out-the-vote , microtargeting , model tree , political marketing , voter identification , voter profile , voter segmentation

Rights: Copyright © 2013 Institute of Mathematical Statistics


Vol.7 • No. 3 • September 2013
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