Powell Tops Democratic and Republican VP Candidates as Evolutionary Optimization Software Identifies Ideal 2008 Presidential Tickets

Affinnova, Inc.

Powell Tops Democratic and Republican VP Candidates as Evolutionary Optimization Software Identifies Ideal 2008 Presidential Tickets

June 30, 2008

Surprise findings include Edwards, Clinton and Giuliani losing ground with likely voters due to polarizing appeal; economy is a top issue, Iraq War is not

WALTHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Affinnova, the leader in optimization technology for innovation and marketing, announced today the surprising results of Optimize *08, its first-ever program to identify the ideal vice presidential candidate and top issue combinations on which both Republicans and Democrats should campaign. Affinnova’s project to identify the ideal vice presidential candidates marks the first time this technology has been applied to the political process.

The most surprising results of the Affinnova optimization show that former Secretary of State Colin Powell has extraordinary strength on both sides of the aisle as he emerged as the most electable VP choice for both Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama. Likely voters for both parties in the study indicate Powell’s strong leadership and dependability as factors for choosing him first.

Among likely Democratic voters, Powell took first place, followed by former Vice President Al Gore and former Majority Leader Dick Gephardt who tied for second place. New York Senator Hillary Clinton came in fourth and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards finished fifth. Among likely Republican voters, Powell came in first with a slight lead. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney were tied for second (though within the margin of error for the Top Ticket). Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani came in fifth.

Affinnova deployed its evolutionary optimization technology with a scientific national sample of 2,000 likely voters from June 12-17, coinciding with its recent announcement at the 2008 American Association of Political Consultants conference. The “secret weapon” technology used by major consumer goods companies sorted through thousands of variations of 100 vice presidential hopefuls and 120 first-term issue priorities. In contrast to traditional polling that asks voters to choose a name from a list, Affinnova’s methodology provides voters with choices between whole ticket concepts which include photos, biographical information, and first-term priorities. This simulates real world options far more accurately than telephone polling and allows testing of a much wider field of alternatives.

Optimize *08 findings include:

* John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Rudolph Giuliani generate strong interest from core supporters but lose overall favorability due to polarizing appeal;
* Despite staying out of the 2008 campaign, Al Gore leads Hillary Clinton in electability on the Democratic side;
* Condoleezza Rice has strong appeal -- tying Huckabee and Romney in spite of her ongoing association with an unpopular president;
* Dick Gephardt shows surprising appeal, tying for second-best Democratic ticket thanks to broad favorability and support from Midwestern voters;
* Top Democratic voter priorities include the economy (middle class tax cuts, foreign trade and clean energy jobs), health care (fighting chronic illness, cutting cost), and education (school reforms);
* The top seven Republican voter priorities include four economic issues (earmarks, taxes, gas prices and the mortgage crisis) and three national security issues (budget reform, military pay, and anti-terrorism);
* When voters are forced to choose specific first-term actions, they prioritize other initiatives above the candidates’ plans for Iraq, Roe v. Wade, a gas tax holiday, and Second Amendment rights.

Powell Shows Broadest Appeal as Top Choice

Measuring broad appeal across a multitude of factors, Affinnova’s evolutionary process shows Powell’s surprising strength as a candidate. Likely voters on both sides of the aisle view him as a strong, dependable leader. His popularity appears to have emerged unaffected from his service in the current administration and he retains tremendous credibility. Though core Democrats supported Edwards and Clinton, the Obama/Powell ticket attracted broad support from Democrats, Independents, and cross-over Republicans.

Rounding out the top candidates on the Democratic side are Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller, and retired General Wesley Clark.

The top candidates on the Republican side also include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Texas Governor Rick Perry, South Dakota Senator John Thune, Florida Governor Charlie Crist, and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson. Interestingly, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush finished last out of 41 Republican “short list” VP hopefuls.

It’s the Economy (not Iraq), Stupid

Five of the top eight first-term Democratic priorities centered on economic issues while four of the top seven Republican priorities were also about the economy. Obama’s economic issues, as prioritized by voters, include middle class tax cuts, foreign trade policy, clean energy jobs, and cutting health care costs. For McCain, voters’ top economic issues include ending earmarks, cutting taxes, gas prices, and addressing the mortgage crisis.

Surprisingly absent from the list of top priorities was the Iraq War. Though there were seven priority statements specifically addressing the issue, none made the top 25 priorities for either candidate. The top ranked Obama Iraq priority statement, which addressed withdrawal plans, leadership, and diplomacy, came in 44th. The top ranked McCain Iraq priority statement, which assured support for the counterinsurgency strategy, came in 29th.

Other Priorities

Other voter-driven Republican priorities include four national security/military promises (budget reform, increased military pay, anti-terrorism, and veterans compensation), plus education reforms and protecting traditional marriage. Notably missing from the top 10 Republican issues are border security (#12), a gas tax holiday (#19), reducing greenhouse gas emissions (#24), and overturning Roe v. Wade (#42).

Top Democratic issues beyond the economy include fighting chronic illness, education reforms, affordable college tuition, constitutional restoration, investing in green technology, and inspiring public service. Notably missing from the top 10 were the national health care plan (#12), protecting women’s reproductive rights (#16), engaging foreign diplomacy before force (#22), and addressing the mortgage crisis (#52).

Evolutionary Optimization is a More Insightful Form of Analysis

“Affinnova has adapted its patented evolutionary optimization technology to identity the dream Democratic and Republican tickets leading into November,” said Steve Lamoureux, Chief Innovation Officer of Affinnova, Inc. “This method, widely adopted by Fortune 500 consumer goods companies, can sort through millions of combinations of candidates and issues to identify the optimal presidential tickets and the most powerful issues on which to campaign.”

Affinnova’s unique evolutionary optimization technology was developed from pioneering work at MIT. It has been used for several years by leading consumer marketers such as Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Gatorade, Nestle, and AARP to optimize new products, package design, and ad campaign concepts. Affinnova’s technology mimics the process of evolution -- but at a greatly accelerated rate. The technology presents online participants with 20 to 25 rounds of concept choices, where the options adjust in each round based on prior selections. Each participant advances the optimization by further refining and narrowing the options. After a thousand or so participants, just a few “optimal” concepts remain. Using this advanced technology, Affinnova’s clients can find top product and marketing concepts faster and more reliably than through traditional focus groups, polls, or surveys.

Visit www.optimize-08.com for a detailed look at the results. Visitors to this site can also demo the same evolutionary process used by the sample group and register to receive future results.

About Affinnova, Inc.

Affinnova is the global leader in optimization technology for innovation and marketing. We pioneered the use of evolutionary algorithms in the development and marketing of consumer products, services, and online assets. Our patented IDDEA® optimization technology evolves concepts based on collective consumer choice until only the fittest concepts survive. IDDEA® delivers “Top Concepts” (ideas, designs, web pages, message platforms) every time, consistently outperforming any alternative approach. The company’s service and software solutions have been adopted by a growing list of Fortune 500 companies. Headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, Affinnova is privately held. For more information about Affinnova, visit www.affinnova.com.


Schwartz Communications
Karen Sharma or Joe Palladino, 781-684-0770


Affinnova, Inc
Steve Lamoureux, 781-464-4718