The Influence of Data in the 2016 Election

By Jennifer Shambroom, October 10, 2016

election-blogThe Influence of Data in the 2016 Election

While behavioral tracking is beneficial in a wide range of industries, perhaps none are as relevant this year as the presidential election. As Democrats and Republicans continue to battle it out, tech companies and presidential candidates alike are tapping into big data to uncover valuable insights for this year’s election.

President Obama’s Successful Data Campaign

A significant portion of President Barack Obama’s success has been attributed to data collection and analysis. Obama’s 2012 campaign had an analytics department that was five times larger than that of the 2008 campaign. Leveraging this massive team for data-driven initiatives such as advertising spend, may have given Obama the competitive edge that led to his reelection. 2012 was the first time that data achieved this level of political influence in human history.

Data Utilization & the 2016 Election

Now fast-forward to 2016, where data plays an even more prominent role in our lives than it did just four years ago. In terms of political ad spend, digital is predicted to see the biggest growth, compared to prior years. The channel is projected to account for $1 billion of political ad spending or 9.8% of the total. To compare, digital saw $270 million in political ad spending in 2014, only 3.6% of total political ad spending; and you better believe that the use of data aligns with this rise in political ad spend.

How Technology Leverages Data

Presidential election apps have the potential to harness the power of Adaptive Listening to manage all the social conversations collected for analysis and report purposes. For elections, these conversations are often categorized into issue areas, such as LBGT rights, immigration and tax reform.

IBM’s election app is equipped to pick up keyword matches and associate negative and positive language with those keywords. By tapping into social media networks for this data, candidates can tell where users live and how many followers they have to determine how potentially influential they are and where it’s worth to invest.

Data, Ad Spend, and Election Influence

Similarly, election results apps promise to cut down on time and manpower spent on rigorous analysis to distill rough data into charts and graphs that candidates can use to their advantage. IBM’s Watson Group and MutualMind are working together to further cater Adaptive Listening results to the specific needs of campaign analysts.

The goal is to dig deeper into online users’ personalities and behaviors to get a clearer picture of their voting preferences and key issue areas. With these actionable insights, presidential candidates can take control of this data and use it to their advantage to allocate ad spend wisely, adjusting strategies, targeting the right groups, and swaying public opinion.


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