The Obama campaign’s use of computerized data in deciding which potential voters to target helped the president win in November, says Eric Siegel, a former computer science professor at Columbia University.
He’s author of the forthcoming book, “Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die.”
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The Obama campaign was able to use digital data to figure out which voters were worth contacting to persuade them to vote for the president, Siegel tells Newsmax TV's Kathleen Walter in an exclusive interview.
“They actually predicted which individual voter within swing states had the propensity to be influenced,” says Siegel, whose website is thepredictionbook.com.
“So beyond predicting who you might vote for or whether you might vote at all, they’re literally conducting a new kind of science of persuasion.”
Computerized data drove “millions of campaign decisions of whose door to knock on and who to send a flier, who to call.” Those decisions were made on an individual basis by examining available data for each voter.
With all its data in hand, the Obama campaign was able to utilize its volunteers to knock on the right doors and call the right people, Siegel says.
The Obama strategy can be compared to the math-based analytics used by Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane, as described in the Michael Lewis book “Moneyball” (later turned into a movie), Siegel says.
But it’s important not to over-emphasize the data, he says.
“It’s not that the [Athletics’] use of math was the only way in which they won. Of course the individual players on the team are quite skilled at playing baseball,” Siegel points out.
Similarly, “people weren’t just voting for Obama because of math done that chose whether the person was contacted or not,” he says. “However, it was a major factor. Whether it decided the election that’s not anything that can be said, at least” based on publicly available data.
As for the Romney campaign, it reportedly failed miserably with its digital efforts.
“To the greatest of our knowledge, the Romney campaign did not use this type of advanced analytics,” Siegel says. “Anything’s possible within any organization. They may be doing any kind of analysis and not disclosing it. But we haven’t heard anything about the Romney campaign using this level of advanced predictive analytics, especially with regard to predicting the persuasion of individual voters.”
So what’s the implication for future elections? “The fact that the winning side of the election is also the side that employed this particular technology speaks volumes. At least it will be an influential factor,” Siegel says.
And Republicans should get better. “There’s a good chance that they’ll also take up this type of technology, which is rapidly becoming more widely understood.”
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