Marketing, Positioning and Preference in the Iowa Caucuses

As a researcher, I love elegant information displays–nothing can truly bring to life–or obscure–important data like a compelling graphic. Edward Tufte has more on this to say than I ever could, but the New York Times posted a graphic of our Iowa data that I just had to share with you:


This graph, (taken from this story from today’s New York Times) clearly distills the essence of Huckabee’s surge in Iowa. Again, as a researcher, I love the way our data has been presented here–but as a marketer, I notice something else. Politicos will focus on the size of the “Shares My Values” bubble for Huckabee (and rightly so) as the story behind his Iowa success. What strikes me, however, is not so much the “values” aspect specifically, but the fact that he has any disproportionately larger bubble at all–look at Fred Thompson, for instance–his “bubbles” are all fairly even, which means that he didn’t win the battle for any one position, but was a little bit of everything. Huckabee found a ladder that he could sit atop and successfully claimed it. Of course, step one in this process (as in any strategic marketing exercise) is determining which ladders are worth owning, and which ones are not as important in the eyes of your consumers–or voters. Still, being known for something is better than owning nothing in particular.