Meet Clinton’s ‘Number Junkie’: Despite Influential Role in Clinton Campaign, ‘Microtrends’ Author Says He’s No Karl Rove

Mark Penn is a self-described numbers junkie who started out as a shy boy from the Bronx, N.Y. Penn’s shyness has actually become an asset — he wanted to discover what people were thinking without having to ask them.

Penn conducted his first poll at age 13. It was a poll about race relations in America, and the moment he sent it out, he said he realized, “Wow, I can find out what different people thought by sending out flyers and analyzing them, and being a different detective. & I always found it fascinating from this very first poll.”

He now polls on everything from the Iraq War to what television shows people watch (Republicans like “24,” he said. And for the last 10 years he has been the man that Bill and Hillary Clinton have enlisted to help them figure out what voters think.