Friday, December 30, 2011

Obama Re-Election Campaign: Stop Shooting Yourself in the Foot

Dear Obama Re-election Committee and Democratic National Committee...yes I mean YOU!

For months you have been sending me daily emails begging for money accompanied by a dire warning of the desperate consequences if I don’t, i.e. Obama will not be re-elected and the country will be turned over to a hopelessly backward Republican.  Sometimes I receive two or three such dire warning emails a day, which is WAY too many.  The time between these warning stimuli and the dire consequence (Obama loses the election to Mitt (Mr. 1%) Romney, or shudder Gingrich, is much too long for the warnings to be very effective.  As a consequence, each morning I always delete your email warnings without reading them, and ignore them entirely. Really.  I do that each morning, honestly, and hardly feel guilty at all. I try to feel guilty, but that too has extinguished.  I know you are right, of course, about the importance of supporting Obama’s re-election, but that doesn’t matter because nature takes its inevitable course regardless of your flawless logic.  The following principles are fairly simple and scientifically very well established and you can probably understand them, even if you're a bunch of aspiring lawyer-politicians:

1. Habituation Occurs:  An initial increase in an elicited response followed by a decline of the elicited behavior with repeated presentation of the eliciting stimulus.

2. Extinction Occurs:  Repeated presentation of a conditioned eliciting stimulus without an aversive stimulus following it, hence the eliciting stimulus eventually loses it’s power to elicit a response.

Corollary: Speed of habituation or extinction is greater with the more frequently the eliciting stimulus is presented and nothing aversive happens.  The point is that by sending your supporters daily emails begging for money, you are teaching us to ignore you, and believe me, that is what more and more of us are doing.  Not good.

The moral of the story, if you keep sending your supporters daily warning emails begging for money, none of us will pay any attention to them any longer and your war chest will plateau, and you won’t have enough money for the re-election campaign when you really need it. L
 Solution:  Develop an intermittent positive reinforcement strategy so that with each passing month before the election next November, donors randomly receive a prize. You have already used this approach using dinner with Obama as a reward for campaign donations.  For example, at first one out of every 10 donors randomly receives a photo and paw-print from Bo, then after a couple months one out of every 5 donors receives an autographed photo of Michelle, Malia or Sasha.  Over the last two months every donor would receive a signed photo of the Prez shooting a jump shot.  
You get the idea.  The big prize randomly would be selected from everyone who donated over the year before the election...  a trip to Washington to attend the inaugural and hang out shooting a few hoops with guess who?  Cool, huh?

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