This is the first post on the issue of Ted Cruz, Robert Mercer, and a shadow firm called Cambridge Analytica. The beginning of this story is somewhat vague, as I haven’t found a solid source for how Ted Cruz and Robert Mercer met, or whose idea it was to hire Cambridge Analytica. National Review first mentioned the alliance almost exactly 1 year ago, with an article discussing a super PAC’s intent to raise 31 million dollars for Cruz.
Mercer, at that time, had already gotten a reputation during the 2012 cycle as a BIG money man. The hedge fund guru had donated huge chunks of money to various PACs and conservative candidates and causes during that cycle.
Why he tapped Cruz is a mystery, at this point. Mercer is notoriously close mouthed, in part because he spends so much time with computers and writing code that he rarely speaks. Computers are not the best conversationalists, and neither are the bot programs he invented that brought him his amazing wealth and reputation in the hedge fund world.
However they met, Mercer and family decided to back Cruz, not only with money, but with the services of literally the best psychographic segmentation firm in the world, Cambridge Analytica. According to The Guardian, in a series of very revealing interviews, Cruz’s campaign decided to hire Cambridge as they are a “market leader”. Now this is likely disingenuous, for a few reasons:
- Mercer was already backing Cruz at the time these interviews were done, and had been for almost 8 months. Given that Mercer is the money man behind Cambridge (and the reported fees Cruz paid are bargain basement, something we’ll get into later), it seems unlikely Cruz looked further than his benefactor’s pet project.
- This “market leader” is far more than that–something else that will be more closely examined in the next post. In truth, Cambridge Analytica and its parent firm SCL Group, are light years ahead of their field. Calling them mere “market leaders” is like comparing a pinto to a Ferrari. The app firm that magically appeared and produced Cruz’s data hoovering iPhone app is technically a “market leader” (as they were the first to combine specialized metric algorithms in an app, not because they are the best). Cambridge’s roots go back decades, and nobody can do what they do. We saw them at work in Iowa, as a matter of fact.
However it really happened, Cruz found himself the proud client of the best there is, and with 750,000.00 to start the ball rolling. Dr. Carson also used their services for what appears to be a very minor project, judging by the cost–likely just some close order targeting, campaign materials, crafted talking points, and other little things. Cruz got, and is getting, far more than that.
Cambridge Analytica specializes in, as mentioned, psychographic segmentation. The preceding link gives a good basic explanation, but here’s one for those who don’t want to interrupt the story, and one that brings it home, so to speak:
- People fit in little cubby holes. These cubby holes, and the characteristics they represent, are assigned letters or numbers, or both. by using social media data, cookies, browsing behavior, and time spent on sites, P.S. analysts will assign you a code. Based on this code, the ad company knows to show you sheets from Egypt, or pink blingy purses for poodles. and once you have bought one pink blingy poodle purse, when next you’re online, you’ll be offered a matching pink blingy poodle bed, or personalized poodle harness, and every time you buy, the code changes. And the next time, you’re offered something slightly more expensive, from another store.
So, if you are a C1IMH, you’d be a lower middle class risk taker, married, no children, and typically almost broke. Add in the information from Facebook, and we know you like grunge bands from Seattle, dirty jokes, and you have a sister and a perpetually broken down Ford F150. Add in the few times you’ve bought on Amazon, and we know that you like to dream about expensive fishing gear, but end up buying the cheapest 10 pound test available, then you head to Walmart.com, where you buy sinkers, bobbers, and chartruese scampis–which means you’re bottom jigging somewhere, BTW :-).
And along the way, everything you do online, anywhere, is recorded, and slipped into a little cubby. Companies like C.A. Often buy data from or enter into sharing arrangements with grocery stores or other businesses that offer reward cards, to get more information, on you. And then, when a company that makes custom poodle clothing pays the firm a fee, C.A. works with them and produces the perfect ad, for a hefty fee. The ad that makes YOU decide the second time you see it that whatever it is, you can’t live without it.
And that is only the beginning of what they collect, how they calculate it, and what they know about you. Because, once upon a time, Cambridge Analytica was involved in the biggest Hoovering job ever–they “Hoovered”, or vacuumed up, all the Facebook data (and heaven knows what other social media data) in the entire. United. States.
End of Part 1 Click Here For Part 2