For decades, politicians have used various tactics to assess the voting public’s preferences, dislikes and even changes in attitude in order to best position themselves to win an election. However, it is only in recent years that the real-time analytics of big data collected through the internet, and particularly through social media networks have played a central role in motivating political campaigns. Reflecting back to the most recent American presidential election, it was no secret that both major political parties relied heavily on big data analytics to inform their decisions and try to win.
Nowadays, political campaigns need to rely on a data-driven approach and measured performance. Understanding the voting public’s behaviours, patterns, likes and dislikes will only help politicians to segment and micro-target the right population with unique and specifically-tailored messages that resonate with their targeted audience. And the technologies are trying to keep up. Campaigns can leverage numerous predictive and statistical models and have resources to rely on. For example, the KI SOCIAL includes various modules that allow our scientists and research analysts to aggregate and monitor content across various social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media platforms. KI SOCIAL provides a combination of data intelligence from reputable sources and enables the configuration of keyword monitoring, feeds, and much more. Campaigns need accurate contact information on voting citizens, volunteers, and donors and social media analytics is just one way to track these individuals.
While it would be impossible to match every single Twitter or Facebook user to a registered voter or even political party, politicians can use software and tools to reach a critical mass where that’s useful insight. Campaigns also use data to construct predictive models to make targeting campaign communications more efficient and to support broader campaign strategies. Candidates have even gone as far as designing apps that test voters’ knowledge of pressing issues facing the country and future challenges to get them more engaged in the dialogue and help determine their wishes. Looking back at Former-President Barack Obama’s campaign in 2012, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had three dimensions of big data analytics to focus upon:
- Volume: according to big data standards, the amount of raw data they had, was small. However, they let their analysts pursue their data-driven ideas and thus, they created a tenfold of this in a short time frame.
- Variety: there were many sources of data whether it be from social media, the Internet, or traditional television broadcast.
- Velocity: the data analysts, staff and volunteers created, received, and transmitted new data at high speeds.
It is clear that big data analytics is now almost a necessity for all big political campaigns. While the adoption of these big data analytical methods has not radically transformed how most campaigns operate, the improved efficiency gives data savvy politicians a competitive advantage in targeting potential voters. Big data can help provide more direct access to citizen sentiment so that running politicians can be more in tune with citizens’ demands and target their campaign messages accordingly.