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M.I.T.-Developed Technology IDs Top Campaign Issues

Earlier this week, I mentioned how the technology used to gauge interest in and market peanut butter and Gatorade found that Americans in both political parties agree on a few matters heavier than snack choices.
Earlier this week, I mentioned how the technology used to gauge interest in and market peanut butter and Gatorade found that Americans in both political parties agree on a few matters heavier than snack choices.Affinnova found that former Secretary of State Colin Powell is an ideal candidate for vice president on both tickets because both Democrats and Republicans believe he is a credible and reliable leader. It's no surprise that the company also found that voters in both camps agree that the economy is the most important issue facing our nation's leaders.

However, there were some differences in the fine points.

Democrats cited middle-class tax cuts, foreign trade, clean-energy jobs, and cutting health care costs as the highest economic priorities. Republicans want to end earmarks, cut taxes, lower gas prices, and address the mortgage crises, according to Affinnova.

One of the most unexpected findings the system uncovered is that voters on both sides rank the war in Iraq low on their list of priorities. Affinnova presented seven statements addressing the war, but none ranked among the top 25 priorities among either side's supporters.

The findings were based on an optimization technology developed by MIT. Participants waded through 20 to 25 rounds of concept choices, in which the options in each round were based on previous choices. The system can sift through millions of combinations of candidates and issues to identify the most compelling campaign tickets and issues.

It was the first time Affinnova applied the technology to the political process, and the company claims results are more reliable than traditional research methods such as polls. Steve Lamoureux, chief innovation officer of Affinnova, said the technology has been "widely adopted by Fortune 500 consumer goods companies."

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Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing