Simulmatics Case Study

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The 480 is fiction, but the science-fictional seeming technology that drove the plot was very real in 1964. Four years earlier, Kennedy’s presidential campaign hired Simulmatics Corporation to estimate the political effect of various campaign tactics Kennedy could pursue. Though Simulmatics would later dip its feet in many fields, it was incorporated in 1959 with the sole purpose of modeling voting behavior, and its work with the Kennedy campaign was its first contract. Their computer simulations drew heavily on Voting’s model of opinion formation. William McPhee, a co-author of the study, was one of three founders of Simulmatics, and Robert Abelson and Ithiel Pool, the other founders, were experts in political psychology. Simulmatics was …show more content…
Simulmatics used a fuller set of parameters for their more complex simultions, factoring in race, region, income, gender, and development (e.g., urban). Burdick drew his book’s title from the resultant 480 unique voter-types. Each voter type, according to Simulmatics’ simulations, was a calculable entity. Simulmatics did not, of course, assume that all White Protestant middle-class urban male Democrats would vote for the same candidate, but they argued, all voters of a certain type face identical pressures, and so their voting behavior can be modeled en masse by adjusting their past voting record to account for new …show more content…
The Republican Old Guard, in The 480, consistently misreads political opinion and pursues heavy-handed campaign tactics while the lean and modern Simulations Enterprises subtly but effectively manipulates mass media to change public opinion. Voting simulations were, for Burdick, a disruptive innovation that would end ineffective campaign bureaucracies. This Silicon-Valley style shift had anti-establishment potential, but, Burdick warned, it might re-concentrate elite political power in a “new underworld” of power-hungry and secretive behavioral scientists. This temptation plays out in The 480 when Curver imagines holding great power as a top advisor to a future President

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