Press Releases

Ken Mehlman and Robby Mook Discuss the Use of Data in Campaigns


April 06, 2017

Top Bush and Clinton Campaign Aides in Two New GLG Videos on Decision-Making

New York, New York; April 6, 2017 — GLG (Gerson Lehrman Group, Inc.) today released videos with Ken Mehlman, Head of Public Affairs at KKR, former Republican National Committee Chairman, and Campaign Manager for President George W. Bush; and Robby Mook, Campaign Manager for Hillary Clinton and former Executive Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. These videos are part of GLG’s Anatomy of a Decision video series.

Mehlman and Mook, interviewed by GLG Head of Public Affairs Richard Socarides, discuss, among other things, data mining and data modeling in elections and share their experiences as campaign managers for President Bush and Secretary Clinton, respectively.

Mehlman says setbacks during the 2000 U.S. presidential election led to a revolution in political data modeling. He also explains the importance of overcoming confirmation bias when making decisions, saying:

We’re all biased toward how we want the world to be. And we’re biased toward the path of least resistance. And what often forces us to overcome those biases and come up with the right decision and the right answer are mistakes and our humility in recognizing our own flaws and our own limits.

At another point in the video, he talks about his new role with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan, focusing on education, science, and curing disease.

Mook explains his take on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and why organizations should prepare themselves for major disruptions. Mook also discusses what mistakes were made during Clinton’s campaign:

A lot of the data was wrong in this campaign… But what was so different from 2012 was there was an overwhelming gale force desire for change. There was incredible unrest in the electorate. And then we saw certain moments in the campaign when there could be big swings in the election result… So, we were looking at a 4-point spread. We, I think, needed an 8-point margin of error. And that’s the thing I would go back and look at differently. And so I think anybody using data needs to make sure they’re not engineering themselves, or making their organizations so efficient that they’re not able to sustain some sort of disruption.

Previously released videos in the Anatomy of a Decision series feature interviews with: Jill Abramson, former Executive Editor of The New York TimesJeffrey Brenzel, former Dean of Admissions at Yale University; Jeff Kindler, former CEO of Pfizer and Chair of the GLG InstituteJake Sullivan, former Director of Policy Planning at the United States Department of State; and Pamela Thomas-Graham, former CMO of Credit Suisse.

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