Will Data Analytics Win the Presidential Election?

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The 2008 presidential election clearly showed how technology (communication via social media) could be used to reach out to large segments of voters, arguably tipping the balance in the Democrat's favor.  While technology is once again being used to reach out to the masses in the current election, analytics technologies are increasingly (and quietly) being used to organize prospective donors/voters.

Over the summer, the Romney campaign hired analytics firm Buxton Co., to sift through large commercially available data sources. The data sources included such details as: voter registrations, charitable contributions, property tax records and survey responses.  The data would allow them to identify new and potentially wealthy untapped Republican donors in primarily liberal bastions.  

Since the data sources were large and disparate, each source was pre organized in a manner that was not necessarily specific to the analytical goals of the Romney campaign.  The analytics firm had to use powerful computers alongside proprietary selection algorithms in order to aggregate and reorganize ("post organization") the data which would identify these possible donors.  Similarly, the Obama campaign utilizes user data from sources such as Facebook and Twitter ("pre organization") to identify possible donors and supporters.  The campaign then utilizes these user attributes to craft specific messages that target that demographic in order to solicit financial or volunteer contributions.

The organization stakes could not be higher.  Since the fate of the election may very well rest on who raises the most money, effective voter data organization and analytics may change the direction of the country over the next four years (and beyond). 

Link to the story:  http://slashdot.org/topic/bi/can-data-mining-win-a-presidential-campaign/