Is the presidential campaign providing a look at the first truly massive use of big data?

jdixon

Let me preface my question by saying it has nothing to do with any candidate's merits or lack thereof. What I find interesting is the use of massive amounts of data to target supporters, both current and potential. There was a story in Slate today that referenced Project Norwal, which takes information from numerous separate repositories and creates a complete picture of voters, which is then made available to all arms of President Obama's reelection campaign. As Slate put it, it merges "the multiple identies of the engaged citizen - the online activist, the offline voter, the donor, the volunteer - into a single, unified political profile." Ok, I'll admit that doesn't sound THAT impressive...until you consider the Obama campaign has records on 170 MILLION potential voters, with an unidentified number of them actually being the same people. I will be watching to see how this plays out from a big data perspective. Am I off base, or is this really the first massive use of big data that we've seen publicly?

Tags: big data
Topic: Big Data
Answer this Question

Answers

2 total
jimlynch
Vote Up (19)

It's certainly an interesting use of the data, but will it have an effect one way or the other? I don't know, it may affect the election to one degree or another. I suppose it will help the candidates on both sides to tailor their messages to what they think voters want.

On the other hand, this could be mean that they simply pander even more. Is that what we really want or need? Or do we need somebody who will be more straightforward and direct with the country's voters?

We'll have to wait and see if any of the candidates can really gain an advantage from this data or if it's just an interesting footnote to the election.

jlister
Vote Up (17)

The Obama campaign was really the first national political campaign to leverage social media to its advantage back in 2008, so I'm not surprised that it would be inclined to embrace big data for 2012.  There was an indication that this was happening a few months ago when the Obama campaign was publicly recruiting for data scientists and data engineers at Stanford.  It makes perfect sense - they have a huge store of information on millions of individuals, and being able to leverage that information into even a 1% advantage in votes gained could make the difference between a win and a loss.  Also, the campaign has the complete background information of many supporters from 2008, including education, work history, references, etc., thanks to a program ran during the post-election transition period that encouraged people to apply for administration positions.  Add in over 20 million folks that like his facebook profile.  Add in 10 million twitter followers  That is a wealth of information, and utilizing all of this data to pitch specific appeals to individual voters has the potential to be campaign gold.  And they have tens of millions of dollars to try to do it right.

 

I'm sure the Republican candidates are doing something similar, but I am far less familiar with their campaigns.  We will see shortly whether this effort to utilize big data bears fruit.  If you start seeing political messages/advertising effectively targeting you on specific issues that you care about, you can judge their success of their data analytics efforts for yourself.   

Ask a question

Join Now or Sign In to ask a question.
Big data analytics are driving rapid growth for public cloud computing vendors with revenues for the top 50 public cloud providers shooting up 47% in the fourth quarter last year to $6.2 billion, according to Technology Business Research Inc.
According to a new dataset, the big names in technology lag well behind actors, politicians and athletes in terms of global cultural significance
Every business, it seems, needs a data scientist, but not everyone knows what to look for. The four qualities of a good data scientist described here will help you first write a job description and then evaluate candidates for your data scientist vacancy.
Big data analytics are driving rapid growth for public cloud computing vendors with revenues for the top 50 public cloud providers shooting up 47% in the fourth quarter last year to $6.2 billion, according to Technology Business Review Inc.
The Big Data space is heating up – to the point that many pundits already see it as the over-hyped heir to "cloud." The hype may be a bit much, but Big Data is already living up to its potential, transforming entire business lines, such as marketing, pharmaceutical research, and cyber-security.
Without the computing power to assess all the data coming from connected devices, GE suggests that enterprises won't realize the full potential of the industrial Internet.
With Teradata QueryGrid, your data warehouse can now intelligently use the functionality of multiple, heterogeneous processing engines, including Hadoop.
With the release of the Hortonworks Data Platform 2.1 version of its Hadoop distribution, Hortonworks is packing in new enterprise features, including data access, data governance, data management, security and operations.
Pivotal unveils the Pivotal Big Data Suite, an all-you-can-eat software, support and maintenance platform that's designed to provide access to all the technologies required to build a business data lake with a single pricing metric.
A new study of the questions asked on Stack Exchange reveals what issues are giving web developers headaches

White Papers & Webcasts

See more White Papers | Webcasts

randomness