Big Data and the American election

Currently, the world is the middle of an intense year of political elections that began with the Taiwanese Presidential elections on January 14th, 2012. Since then, Greece has elected a new parliament, France voted out Nicolas Sarkozy, replacing him with Francois Hollande, Vladimir Putin was once again elected as Russia’s President, and Enrique Pena Nieto won the Presidential election in Mexico. Additionally, President Barack Obama and the Democrats have begun sparring with Governor Mitt Romney and the Republicans as elections in the United States quickly approach. The Presidential election in the States is of particular interest to us at CaptainDash because it represents the potential for big data in the political arena. Recently, Obama has begun to hire data mining scientists to his re-election campaign, signifying the shift to including big data in a political campaign. These workers would be working with various data sources including social media sites to predict a variety of factors. These could be broad in nature such as, which candidate someone will vote for what issues peak their interest, but also more subtle including whether an issue is better suited to persuade or mobilize and how likely a voter is to open a campaign email. As Dan Siroker- then Senator Obama’s director of analytics in 2008- explained these jobs are there to “help the campaign make better decisions using the date [they] had.”

Despite the President’s commitment to using big data in his reelection, Governor Romney is unlikely to be at a significant disadvantage. In fact, he was one of the first individuals to recognize the potential that big data had in his successful bid for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002. In this race, Romney hired TargetPoint Consulting, a data mining firm that works with Republican candidates- aiding to his victory in a state that doesn’t often elect a member of the G.O.P. Furthermore, the Romney campaign was the only one in the Republican primary to hire an in-house digital director. Therefore, it looks like the Presidential election will contain many implications for big data.

We at Captain Dash look forward to seeing the results of this election but more importantly how the use of Big Data influences the outcome. We are also very interested to hear what you think on this topic; will the use of big data expand to other countries and become common in political races? Will Obama maintain his big data advantage or will Romney catch him? How big of an effect will big data have on this election? Comment on this post, and let us know your opinions!

The Captain