Big Data is said to play a critical role in 2016 US Presidential Elections as it helps the presidential candidates in building and maintaining a massive voter database of their own to target and motivate voters and dynamically determine resource allocations.
When we think about it, big data works exactly the same way in politics as it does in business; the only difference is that marketing efforts are aimed at voters instead of customers. It actually helps in revolutionizing people participate in political processes of today. For instance, you can look back at the millions of twitter conversations that sprang up or the many viral campaign videos during the 2008 and 2012 election campaigns. Remember, President Obama’s data-driven re-election campaign swept him back into office in 2012.
And with continued growth in social media use from 1.4 billion in 2012 to 2.13 billion users in 2016 — the importance of social data in the next election will definitely increase.
However, no matter who’s using it, there are two important concerns for any campaign that collects data on voters. One is how to unify voter data that’s coming in from multiple sources and the other is how to protect voters’ privacy?
The key to make big data useful is data unification or cross- correlating data from multiple silos. For example, collecting data from a variety of social media channels, emails, and other resources and then unifying it to get a complete view of the info they have and determine how to act on it.
At the same time, data privacy is also an important challenge, especially as voter information and communication become more targeted and individualized
Now, comes the big task of using analytics on the collected data to drive strategy. In general, data is being created all the time, as people share events and information on social media and through mobile devices.
By applying data algorithms to social, geo-location and other data; campaigners can target voters more precisely than ever. They can also make more targeted decisions about resource allocation, such as determining where to spend dollars to get the most out of campaign.
Another important aspect of using data is being able to identify and target voters who are undecided on whom to vote and timely action can make them move in a certain direction. Similarly, data can be used to identify champion supporters who can persuade those in their own networks to vote for their favored candidate.
Sometimes, all this effort can backfire, as voters are becoming more vigilant and knowing what is happening around them. For example, Donald Trump’s recent comments on ‘Abortion’ laws which made women voters vent their anger on social media. But in most cases, it moves towards success.
The other stream in which big data analytics plays a vital role is to forecast the outcome of the 2016 Presidential elections- that’s what brought so much attention to Nate silver in 2012 and now to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
However, when it comes to football and politics, no one predict the future of a game or a political event such as election results. The only thing we can do is to guestimate or assume a probable outcome through different resources and Data Analytics happens to be one of them.