In the last two general elections, the capability of Barack Obama’s campaign team to effectively wield big data analytics was seen a factor in his victory over his rivals. But that advantage has all but disappeared this time around, says Tom Bonier, the CEO of TargetSmart, which provides big data analytics and services to the national and state Democratic parties and their political allies.
“The playing field is a lot more level now than it was then,” Bonier tells Datanami. “In 2008, the narrative was that Democrats were so much smarter and so much farther ahead than Republicans in this area, and that’s just not the case at all at this point. It’s a very level playing field in terms of the innovation that’s going on, on both sides of the aisle.”
David Seawright, director of analytics and product innovation from Deep Root Analytics, which provides analytics to the national and state Republican parties and affiliated groups, agrees with that assessment.
“Coming out of 2012, one of the big lessons on the right was we need to be doing this, we need to be doing this better,” Seawright says. “So there’s been big investments, not only on party platforms, but in the formation of companies like ours and Deep Root to really dive in and perform this service to our clients.”
And that service is booming. Thanks to the combination of new data sources, the democratization of advanced analytics, and affordable access to massive computational power, political campaigns in 2016 are feasting on data analytics in a way that was never even possible. From the national campaigns to races at the state and local levels, big data analytics is having a big imprint on our national politic.
Weaponizing’ DataNot only do the presumptive candidates for the presidency have more big data firepower at their disposal than their predecessors, but so do state and local reaces. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Deep Root was born out of efforts by the Republican Party to compete more effectively with Democrats on big data analytics. The company is essentially the big data arm of the GOP, providing data and analytic services to Republicans running for office–from the president on down to state legislative races.
“The word we like to use is to weaponize, or actionize–to apply some action,” Seawright says. “We’re able to provide these sorts of services and deliver these sorts of insights to a lot of different campaigns all at once, a lot of different camp gains up and down the ballot. It’s no longer just a top of the ticket luxury–it’s something everyone can and should be doing.