Given that the next president of the United States will be decided tomorrow, I think it’s as good a time as ever to discuss the impact that big data has had on the election process. We first saw data analytics being used in a significant way during Obama’s 2008 campaign. They hired a small team of Silicon Valley recruits to stretch the fundraising efforts of the Democratic National Party and the team had remarkable success given their meager resources. In this 2016 presidential election, we have seen political consulting firms using complex models and advanced algorithms in order to determine the best way to sway and influence voters. The trick is to convince as many undecided voters as possible without alienating any of the voters you have on your side of the fence. Prior to the use of big data, public sentiment was gauged through the use of telephone polling, which is still a very widely used polling practice. This polling technique is a very refined/controlled scientific process, however, you are limited to a number of issues you can ask individuals in the sample group. Predictive analytics, on the other hand, can play out a head-spinning number of outcomes given a vast amount of variables so that you can get an idea of what candidates need to say/do in order to get the maximum swing voters to your side. This process takes the meaning of a “calculated political move” to an entirely new level. So what does this mean for us citizens as we approach decision day? Is this technology proof of a rigged election system? For me, personally, I see it as business as usual. The use of big data analytics is focused on swaying large swathes of voters, many of whom are undecided. As long as the marketing campaigns are honest and inform voters, I believe they open up room for much needed political discourse in our daily lives. I have had several conversations with people about Trump/Clinton banner ads that have popped onto my computer and, while extremely annoying, they empower me to give a little more thought towards which candidate I want to support. What has been a significant drawback of all of this marketing/media attention, however, is that people are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of over sensationalized news stories. I believe a more effective use of data analytics would be to cut through all this noise and provide individuals with information that they can talk about with the people in their lives and ultimately act upon as an informed citizen. Of course, each parties campaign is going to be biased, but I would rather get targeted by an ad that informs me on an issue that I care about then listen to the overly sensationalized rhetoric that has been playing nonstop on all of the big news stations for the past several months.