The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, November 19, 1980, Image 2

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The Battalion
Texas A&M University
November 19, 1980
By Jim Earle
“I think they have stumbled onto a way of picking up
attendance. ”
Reagan’s successful
pollsters to set trend
WASHINGTON — For most of us Amer
icans, the 1980 election happened once, and
that was enough. For Richard B. Wirthlin and
Richard S. Beal, it happened many, many
times. Their satisfaction with the final outcome
was, at least in part, their pleasure at seeing
the rehearsals reflected in the results.
Wirthlin is a Ph D. economist and a former
head of the economics department at Brigham
Young University, where Beal, a Ph. D in inter
national relations, now teaches. More perti
nent, they are, respectively, the president and
the senior political analyst for Decision Making
Information (DMI), the firm that was the source
of the polling data for Ronald Reagan’s cam
paign. Wirthlin doubled in brass as a member of
Reagan’s senior strategy board and Beal worked
with him in the Arlington, Va., headquarters,
designing the sophisticated computer exercises
that enabled them to “rehearse” the election
many times during the fall.
Wirthlin, a lean, intense 49, and Beal, a roly-
poly 34, are two of the brightest men I have met
in politics. While their techniques are, in many
respects, beyond my comprehension, they be
gan showing me what they were doing back in
September, with the understanding I would
not write about it until the election was over. I
do so now in the belief that you may be as
intrigued as I was with the extent to which
technology and human ingenuity have moved
the art of campaigning beyond the methods of
the old bosses.
The Political Information System (PINS)
they devised was designed, in Beal’s words, “to
use polling data, not just to satisfy the informa
tion needs of the campaign, but to help the
campaign decision-makers with their strategic
If combined unions scare half their members
about Reagan’s labor record, should he step up
his attacks on Carter or try to rebut their speci
fic claims? Or, if John Anderson’s vote begins to
drop, should Reagan add a campaign stop in
Connecticut, or can he afford to cancel one?
In senior staff meetings, these computer dis
plays help guide the allocation of the candi
date’s and surrogates’ time, organizational re
sources and media dollars.
Two things were particularly impressive ab
out the parts of the million-dollar operation
they showed me during the fall. One was the
discipline in their adherence to the basic
theorem of Wirthlin’s original campaign plan to
give Reagan the best possible odds on winning
270 electoral votes, the minimum needed for
victory. And the second was the flexibility in
building into the computer designs a significant
Three digits in mailbox code
useless when nothing comes
{standing? _
“The best’
Tm no critic, 1
e guys sitting
avidovich is t
er heard. N<
•ther I’d like
en'teven taker
Lie Appreci:
I have this terrible problem: I can t remem
ber my mailbox combination.
It’s not that my memory is that poor — it s
just that I haven’t gotten much use out of those
three special numbers.
Each day after classes I approach my mail
box, hoping ever so much that something other
than emptiness will stare back at me through
the window.
But again today, my box was empty. I check
ed it three times.
What I wouldn’t give for a single piece of junk
mail! Even the Army has failed to reach my box
with a flyer this year.
The only time I get mail is when my phone
bill comes. At least a phone bill shows that GTE
Coffee breaks
By Jane Brust
I know, I got my phone bill last week, so why
did I check my box today? Always the optimist.
I see friends peep into their boxes and happi
ly click their combinations to pull out pen pal
notes and fan mail, love letters and notes from
home. I always sneak a quick, hopeful glance at
my window and then try to look like I don t
really care that dust is collecting inside the box.
I think to myself, “Maybe they just haven’t
put it all out yet. Maybe they put my mail in
someone else’s box. Maybe it’s a national
holiday. ”
It’s so humiliating to walk away empty-
I know some people send oft for things —
everything from do-it-yourself bartender’s
guides to John Travolta fan club posters —just
to get some mail. But I’m not that desperate —
Maybe I could join a record club. I’d get a
package of albums every month. But then, that
could get expensive, just for the joy of retriev
ing something from my box. Ifl were to do that,
why not join a book club and a wine-tasting
club? I could even take a correspondence
course in first aid or something.
Last year wasn’t like this. Mom wroteto
every clay, reminding me to take my vita^y,, no t tl
to brush my teeth and to write back. | vie wingone c
That’s it! Perhaps I must write in ordegLists.
receive! IjButyou don’t
I’d write to Dear Abby but she doesn’t J to know that th
back. I She walks oi
Maybe I could go through my addressboP^' 1180 ^ 0 ^
send a photocopied form letter to all * ets you k
and relatives — surely someone won
But then, they all have their own
Everyone is so wrapped up in his lii
there’s no minute to spare, no minute tosl
Maybe I’ll just drop myself a line:
Dear Jane,
Hi! How are you? I’m fine. I just wan fed ya
know I’m thinking about you. Take care
write soon!
een of the ke
During h<
jonsored cone
irmed Haydn’s
B flat Maj
Variations Serie
id six Chopin
But Davidov
the piano, no tl
too, stroking
She driv
ihite streaks fo:
ients later, she
I tarts picking o
L itint-and-peck
i >11 And for once
There! If I mail it now, maybe 111 gel e ce ended. E
Now then, what IS my mailbox combinati
[ntly Russian f
doesn’t me
[move her hai
rows her han
were red 1
And that’s wl
role for intuitive political judgments.
Combining these two principles, Wirthlin
and Beal built the most successful model of the
ever-changing dynamics of a national election
campaign yet designed, and used it to shape
one of the most successful campaigns in Amer
ican history.
With constant injection of fresh data from
national-sample interviews and tracking sur
veys in 20 states, PINS showed in mid-October
the Carter surge in Oregon and Washington,
and cued the Reagan campaign to start, within
two days, a stepped-up advertising effort to
counteract it.
At a time in October when the press was
reporting Reagan’s campaign had stalled, PINS
showed a significant firming of his support in
key constituencies and blocked what Wirthlin
called “some high-risk, off-the-wall decisions
on what we had to do.”
PINS also analyzed the shape of the election
from Carter’s point of view, correctly predict
ing in mid-October his forced abandonment of
several Southern battlegrounds in favor of a
high-risk “big state” strategy. With that analysis
in hand, Reagan was ready for the Carter push
and stopped it cold.
In the losing stages of the campaign, Wirthlin
and Beal used PINS to run simulations of the
election every few days in order to maximize
Reagan’s chances of winning and to reduce the
negative fallout from any “worst-case” develop
Using current survey data (as corrected,
within limits, by the subjective “feel” of cam
paign strategists), PINS would play out the
election results on varying assumptions about
the disposition of the undecided and Anderson
vote and varying levels of turnout, then flash on
the computer screens the simulated election
results. Each “election” scenario could be pro
cessed through the PINS system in seven
seconds, showing the result and its degree of
When I last saw Wirthlin and Beal on the
Friday before the real election, the two social
scientists could hardly retain their academic
That morning’s PINS simulation had shown
the very strong probability of a big Reagan win,
a probability the public polls never quite re
Reagan, won the election through his own
campaigning skills, with a lot of help from such
intuitive politicians as Stuart Spencer, his de
facto campaign manager. But for rival political
strategists, looking ahead to future campaigns,
the success of the Wirthlin-Beal PINS is
enough to keep them on pins and needles for
the next few years.
Dr. W.A.
Station at Te
directors of 1
Porter, an
the Institute
Texas A&l
Class of 1950
Randall Reii
James R. W<
Lunney, a
pient of a Pre
honor of fori
It’s your turn
Fundamentalist groups restrictive
Although letters like these are somewhat of a
social taboo in secular school newspapers, I feel
the subject ought to be brought to light.
First of all let me start by saying “Welcome to
the heartland of Protestant fundamentalism —
the American Bible Belt.” If you have not
already noticed, Texas A&M is a rather “reli
gious” school when you consider the amount of
organizations and activities centered on reli
gious awareness. It is of some of these that I
would like to write in respect to their general
beliefs and practices. My message is this — that
these organizations, although claiming to be
interdemoninational, represent an opinion (as
does any religion) and this opinion is founded in
Biblical fundamentalism. Remember that when
you approach these organizations, (or are
approached as the case often is) that although
they claim no denomination or faith, they are in
fact stressing their belief in the Bible as it is
taken literally, and have set beliefs in salvation,
grace and “the end.”
My concern is when that time comes in col
lege life, when we each ask ourselves the prin
cipal questions: Who am I? What is my pur
pose? etc. some turn to religion, which I feel is
good, however sometimes what is found on
campus isn’t always the best answer.
First of all, since this is a public school, the
“mainline” churches have no chance like the so
called interdenominational organizations in
establishing a ministry to the students. Second
ly, that when you approach these organizations,
do so “with a grain of salt” as they say: accept
what seems right, discard what seems unneces
sary. Next, remember that the method of Bible
study that occurs on campus, usually differs
from Catholic, Jewish and Protestant moder
ates in that it is more isegetical (readu
piece of scripture your own thoughts) r '
than exegitical (trying to understand wto
author meant, and why it was written). s
all, there are no sure-fire methods to app r0
There are no laws or rules to folloWi
couple of verses (usually pulled out oi con
that by themselves will attain for mercy ^
vation. The greatest religion teacher
own hpnrt- ncnallv that is Wie
own heart, because usually that
is, not in someone’s words or theories
Curt Coiner
By Scott McCullar
The Battalion
u S P S 045 360
Texas Press Association
Southwest Journalism Congress
Editor .. . Dillard Stone
Managing Editor Rhonda Watters
Asst. Managing Editor Scott Haring
Becky Swanson
Asst City Editor Angelique Copeland
Sports Editor Ri char d Oliver
Asst. Sports Editor Ritchie p ridd
Focus Editor S cot K. Meyer
Asst. Focus Editor Cath Saath x off
News Editors Lynn Blanco
Gw en Ham, Todd Woodard
Staff Writers. . . .Jennifer Afflerbach, Kurt Allen,
Nancy Andersen, Marcy Boyce, Jane G. Brust
i it . Mike Burrichter, Pat Davidson, Cindy Gee
Jon Heidtke, Uschi Michel-Howell, Debbie Nelson,
^ . Liz Newlin, Rick Stolle
r McCullar
Photographers George
Jeff Kerber
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erated as a community service to Texas A&M University and
Bryan-College Station. Opinions expressed in The Battalion are
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sent the opinions of Texas A&M University administrators or
faculty members, or of the Board of Regents,
Questions or comments concerning any editorii
should be directed to the editor.
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reserves the right to edit letters for style and lengt • t ,
400 ML
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Columns and guest editorials are also welcome, ^ g( J
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The Perl
mas Gif
o tne same length constraint ^ fattalioh 1
, 1 and correspondence to: Editor, tfle ojtjflO, ®
Reed McDonald, Texas A&M University, College
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