Can Big Data defeat Big Money in politics?

Candidates facing well-heeled opponents may have effective weapon in data analytics

By  

I don't know anyone who is doing that."

Perhaps not yet -- or at least not fully -- but things definitely are moving in that direction. President Obama's re-election campaign, for one, has created an in-house analytics team at its Chicago headquarters to integrate and analyze online and offline data.

Interestingly, Stein cites Texas Gov. Rick Perry as the "most innovative politician when it comes to adopting data-driven campaign theories." Perry's campaign to win the GOP nomination and replace Obama in the White House was an unmitigated disaster, but it had little to do with the failure of data analysis and pretty much everything to do with the candidate's unforced errors and on-camera debate meltdowns.

In Perry's successful 2010 gubernatorial primary race, advisers used market research to reallocate funds away from activities deemed ineffective -- early television ads "framing" the candidate, lawn signs, direct mail, editorial board visits -- to a system of volunteers paid $20 to sign up friends and neighbors to vote for Perry. (Which, when you think of it, is a type of social networking strategy.)

The point is that Perry was able to save $3 million, according to Stein. For cash-strapped campaigns, saving $3 million is like raising $3 million. It's all about maximizing return on investment and effective allocation of resources -- goals that data analytics is designed to help achieve.

Washington may be "behind the curve" regarding data capture and analysis, as Stein writes, but eventually it will catch up. And when it does, data analytics may drastically alter the process of electing candidates.

Of course, that doesn't mean it will necessarily save the rest of us from the childish partisan wars that are poisoning the political process, or the corrupting effects of money in Washington and at lower levels of government. After all, not even Big Data can't eliminate greed, corruption and stupidity. That's up to us.

Chris Nerney writes ITworld's Tech Business Today blog. Follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisNerney. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Now read this:
HP's perilous PC dilemma
Sure, now they tell us: Former Palm employees say webOS was fatally flawed
Crappy Google problem dogs Mitt Romney

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Big DataWhite Papers & Webcasts

See more White Papers | Webcasts

Answers - Powered by ITworld

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Ask a Question