The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Obama Wins: How Chicago's Data-Driven Campaign Triumphed |

For the general public, there was no way to know that the idea for the Parker contest had come from a data-mining discovery about some supporters: affection for contests, small dinners and celebrity. But from the beginning, campaign manager Jim Messina had promised a totally different, metric-driven kind of campaign in which politics was the goal but political instincts might not be the means. “We are going to measure every single thing in this campaign,” he said after taking the job. He hired an analytics department five times as large as that of the 2008 operation, with an official “chief scientist” for the Chicago headquarters named Rayid Ghani, who in a previous life crunched huge data sets to, among other things, maximize the efficiency of supermarket sales promotions.


It's not the world-historical, paradigm shifting yada yada that some GOP hand-wringers are speaking of, but I hope the dinos at the top of the Republican Party take notice of this. O's triumph was not so much magic, or zeitgeist, as much technology and applying it to tactics. I have no doubt O's team was far more sophisticated in their application of data mining techniques, for example, than was the GOP. Ironically, too, as Mitt is supposed to be a numbers guy. The application of high powered data-based micro-marketing to politics is kinda creepy, but it's probably inevitable. The GOP needs to get up to speed on this stuff if they want to win national elections. How? People in marketing work for money. Start searching for the right people to hire.--TS

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