Thursday, September 15, 2016

Big Data in Politics


     The article, “How Hillary’s Campaign is (Almost Certainly) Using Big Data” by Eric Seigel, speaks about how Big Data is utilized by politicians, specifically Barack Obama and most likely Hillary Clinton (both of whom are Democrats), as an asset to the campaigns they are running. The author speaks of the evidence that Hillary Clinton is using Big Data as a tool in her campaign based on her traction, the type of people she is looking to hire, and the contracts she has with BlueLabs, an analytics service, and Civis Analytics. Seigel then finishes the article off with an interview with an analyst who worked for Obama and his opinions on how Big Data will be used in this upcoming election. This article makes excellent points about how useful Big Data really is when it comes to things such as elections.
In elections, data and collecting data, are imperative to success because of what the data is able to tell the candidate about where they are going right and where they are going wrong. It also allows for manipulations as the candidate can see what a majority of the public wants and does not want in a candidate. Seigel uses the words “mass voter persuasion” and I think that phrasing it this way is quite accurate. Just as candidates can collect data, they can use it all the same in order to connect with a larger audience, one that is able to hear what they have desired to hear. Contenders can use the data to zero in on the aspects in which it is more useful or beneficial for them to focus on, which in turn helps them save resources and allocate them in the right direction. Campaigns can be more concise and has proven to be more effective than traditional campaigns. Instead of promoting through means that might or might not work, a campaign can instead use Big Data to produce ads and use their budget in a way that they know will work and be effective.

Analytics is also useful for forecasting by making use of polls and poll numbers. This way, campaigns have the ability to influence their own future rather than sit around and wait to see if their current strategy is successful. The interview with Dan Porter, shed light on the unpredictability of voters and the constant shift of the uplift modeling. It is impossible to fully know what the outcome will be come election day. But, this data and model allow them to check in on the persuadable voters and what would sway them such as campaign, message, and timing. There is not enough evidence to prove that Donald Trump, the Republican candidate, is or is not using Big Data as a tool in his campaign, but it is certain that without it he is at a disadvantage. Big Data proves to be once again an essential and freely available instrument of importance.



  1. Interesting use of big data, Deneca! I think from the candidates' perspective, big data is super useful for judging their performance (based upon the polls, what the polls say, etc). It is interesting though how this changes when you look at the use of big data from the voters' perspective. How often do people just say "oh well the polls are vague, it is not a perfect representation of how that candidate is going to do in the election"? Hopefully either candidate will use this big data as a tool, rather than just a means to manipulate the polls into a victory (or even worse, a candidate who appeals to the big data they are receiving, but does not follow through with those promises once they are voted into office).

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  3. This article is very interesting as it currently relates really well to the current political climate surrounding the up and coming election. Big Data is quite useful to either candidate as it has the ability to notify the candidate on how well they are relating and broadcasting their ideas, beliefs, and promises to their supporters and potential voters. By using Big Data, both Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump are able to see how well they are doing in the polls in comparison to one another. They are able to make changes to their methods in order to gain the support of more potential voters as well as show the candidates what they are doing wrong. In the changing technological world Big Data has the potential to guide support and ideals towards a particular candidate. It is able to be used to either boost or bring down each candidates opponent based on what reference they make while utilizing polls and the data that they provide. Overall I would say this is a nice little article into what is to come in the future with elections and debates of potential candidates.

  4. I thought this blog by Deneca was very interesting. Big data is becoming a vital part of almost any operation in today’s society whether it be business, national security, or election politics. I do believe using big data or an analytics team can be huge help for a presidential nominee. It’s almost just as advantageous for a presidential nominee as it is for company trying to market to consumers. Presidential candidates are trying to market themselves to the voters, and using big data to see where they are going wrong versus what they are saying that is right or having a positive impact will help them better their strategy.
    I do think this is a very interesting topic because this topic actually came up in the Netflix original series House of Cards. The main character, Frank Underwood, hired an analytics team to obviously tell him how his strategy is doing, but also to help manipulate the voters by using the internet. In the show the analytics team was using an algorithm to flood social media with trigger words that would create a response to Underwood’s campaign. In Deneca’s article she uses the quote, “mass voter persuasion”. To me persuasion is just a nicer way of saying manipulating. Now I am sure that certain aspects of collecting and analyzing this data is against the law, but I am not really sure of the law in regards to big data in elections. Obviously candidates can take surveys of people and collect data that way, but the most useful information will be on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram.
    I believe that candidates should be using big data to help run their campaign. It’s the most beneficial way to see how their campaign strategy is sitting with millions of people in this country. An election can be lost if the candidate refuses to change his or her’s campaign strategy. They can use this information to allow their campaign strategy to be dynamic and constantly change things in their favor. As long as these candidates are not breaking any government privacy laws then it should absolutely be used. I’ve talked about how it can benefit their campaign strategy but they can manipulate or “persuade” voters in their favor. In regards to recent events in the 2016, Donald Trump could probably use some sort of voter persuasion in regards to the eleven year old tape of him verbally sexually degrading women. It’s a story like that, although it’s merely meant to be a huge distraction, can absolutely ruin a campaign. But I also believe it should be a law that candidates must keep records of all the data they obtained, how they obtained it, and what they did with it. And they should be reprimanded if there were to delete this classified information even if it’s in an email.
    In conclusion, I really believe that campaigns can benefit from big data in terms of strategy and being dynamic.

  5. With the election coming up in a little more than two weeks it is particularly interesting to see how the candidate’s specific campaigns differ. The article, “How Hillary's Campaign Is (Almost Certainly) Using Big Data” is very interesting because its might be a main reason as to by Hillary is leading in most polls. The article points out a very interesting fact, that the election is a numbers game. We can see this is a fact because over the candidate who will win is the one with not only the most votes per citizen but the number of electoral votes. It can be said that Hillary’s campaign is using the new technology and big data analytics to their complete advantage.
    They are using these extremely large data sets to analyze and to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions. Her campaign is using people interactions and responses to certain things to see how it affects their opinion and their vote. While some may see this as in invasion of privacy, I believe that it may be the best way to win the election. It is smart of Hillary to use today’s technology to her advantage. It is interesting that Hilliary’s campaign was particularly looking a “analytics team is looking for data nerds.”
    Like Deneca, I believe that collection data is imperative to succeeding. Though, yes, is it manipulative of the candidate to use these big data to see what the public wants to hear and what the react positively to, I believe that it is essential. I would be particularly interested in seeing how exactly Hillary is using the big data, and how this has improved her campaign. Can a certain percent of her increase in votes be attributed to big data analytics?
    I also thought it was interesting that before candidates starting using big data, their belief about certain voters was very different than what was actually happening. In the article it is stated that, “that self-reported independents and non-partisans are not especially likely to be persuadable, and many voters that were affiliated with a political party actually were persuadable.” However, in reality their opinions can be persuaded in one way just with one slight change in campaign. Hillary was able to use that to her advantage this election and has perhaps been able to come ahead of Trump because of it.
    I think that it will be really interesting to see who will win this election and what exactly their win can be attributed to. If big data really does have a huge impact I am sure we will see future candidates heavily rely on it for future elections.


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