Saturday, January 26, 2013

Digital Analytics and the 2012 Presidential election!

Paul R. Cherrington Web Analytics blog post #2 Web Analytics have been used to improve business, separate meaningful data from junk data, predict trends and increase efficiencies. But did digital analytics affect the outcome of the 2012 United States presidential election? According to a January 25, 2013 article by newsmax.com, President Barack Obama and his management team used digital analytics to identify voters in key swing states who were likely to be influenced by election literature and visits from Democratic representatives. The republican candidate Mitt Romney and his management team did not use advanced digital analytics and tried to reach potential voters through the brute force of mass mailings, knocking on every door, standing on every street corner, and talking to every person regardless of their susceptibility of being receptive to their message. The article focuses on an interview of Eric Siegel who is a former computer science professor at Columbia University. He has authored a book entitled “Predictive Analytics: The power to predict who will click, buy, lie or die.” According to Siegel, the strategy employed by Barack Obama’s management team is similar to the Moneyball strategy that the Oakland A’s baseball club used to improve their baseball team. The A’s looked at a set of statistical data called sabermetrics to identify undervalued players who would be a better at filling key statistics rather than traditional statistics such as home runs, runs batted in and stolen bases. The Obama team used the same strategy to identify and contact the right voters and make their pitch to them. It is unknown whether Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his team used any statistical models to target voters but the results of election will ensure that Republicans will be forced to embrace analytical models in the future. According to Siegel, “The fact that the winning side of the election is also the side that employed this particular technology speaks volumes. At least it will be an influential factor,” Siegel says. And Republicans should get better. “There’s a good chance that they’ll also take up this type of technology, which is rapidly becoming more widely understood.” Also, those who worked on the Digital analytics campaign team for President Obama have been able to take the knowledge that they obtained during the election and use it towards future elections. Amelia Showalter was the campaign director of digital analytics for President Obama and she has launched a consulting company in Washington DC. She was able to raise 700 million dollars for President Obama and 500 million of that was raised through digital channels which include email, social media, mobile phones, and the campaigns web site. Future elections may come to rely on digital analytics as a means of focusing their efforts to recruit potential and undecided voters. Living in a state like Utah, we may see less political advertisements as a result of this new technology however swing states like Nevada, Ohio and Florida may see increased saturation of political signs, commercials, emails, and rallies. It will be interesting to watch the evolution of this process as the way information is disseminated during political campaigns evolves. During world war II, planes would drop hundreds of thousands of bombs to try and destroy an area or target. Sometimes they were very successful but it took a lot of bombs to ensure they accomplished their mission. Today we have bombs guided by GPS, only one bomb is needed, and can be launched from long distances. The way we get information is on a similar evolution and it begs the question, If digital analytics can be used to influence a presidential election of the United States of America, what else can it be used to influence and how far can they go to identify the right people they need to speak with? Sources: Techpresident.com - January 16, 2013 – Sarah Lai Stirland http://techpresident.com/news/23374/obama-campaigns-former-digital-analytics-director-wants-moneyball-your-campaign NewsMax.com – January 25, 2013 – Newsmax Wires http://www.newsmax.com/Politics/siegel-obama-campaign-data/2013/01/24/id/472782/ Research time 3 hours Write up time 1 hour