Highly Neurotic in Cambridge

Cambridge Analytica is about to get some more news coverage, thanks to someone who is dumping a bunch of internal documents from a whistleblower into a Twitter account.

Here's the second one I looked at. It was in the "BOLTON" group, which sounded interesting because John Bolton is back in the news today and I wondered if this was the same Bolton. It is! So this is a case study about how they identified and targeted voters (in NC, by coincidence) for a 2014 Senate race.


CA Political was contracted to carry out a personality-targeted digital advertising campaign with three interlocking goals: to persuade voters to elect Republican Senate candidates in Arkansas, North Carolina and New Hampshire; to elevate national security as an issue of importance and to increase public awareness of Ambassador Bolton’s Super PAC.

GOP candidates were victorious in Arkansas and North Carolina and the Republican candidate did better than expected in New Hampshire. The strongest results came out of North Carolina, which was arguably the most competitive race of the mid-term elections. By adopting an entirely different approach from other campaign groups, the Bolton Super PAC campaign was able to cut through the noise and deliver messages that had a real impact in sending Thom Tillis to the United States Senate.

North Carolina Group 3: Psychographic profiling findings showed that this mostly female, younger group were highly neurotic and most concerned with the economy, national security and immigration. Advertising for Group 3 placed emphasis on the failures of the current administration’s national security policy. Post-election surveys revealed a statistically significant increase in the number of people who identified ‘National Security’ as their most important issue, a 34% increase versus the control group.

North Carolina Group 4: Psychographic profiling results indicated that this group was highly agreeable and conscientious, fairly evenly split in gender. Top concerns were the economy and education. Advertising for Group 4 downplayed political conflict with the message that “national security is something that should cut across political lines”. The campaign also featured young children to position the issue of national security as being for the good of family and society.

The 2014 mid-term elections.

In North Carolina, one of the most strongly contested swing states in the election, CA Political segmented persuadable and low-turnout voter populations to identify several key groups that could be influenced by Bolton Super PAC messaging. Online and Direct TV ads were designed to appeal directly to specific groups’ personality traits, priority issues and demographics.