When I first moved back to the United States after living in post-revolutionary Egypt while I did economic development work , I decided to give online dating a try. The guys with the best approaches had similar strategies and "game" to some of the best salespeople , while the worst messages reminded me of really bad spammy cold emails I had received before. Just like some people are more attractive than others, some products and services are also more naturally appealing to buyers than others.
How President Obama’s campaign used big data to rally individual voters.
How "unsexy" or "sexy" a product or service is will determine how easy or hard it is for the salesperson to sell it. However, the best "inside" remote salespeople are the ones who can craft thoughtful messages that stand out in our inboxes and our minds. Whether you're online dating or trying to decide on which vendor to buy a product from, you won't pay much attention to the 50 messages that look and sound identical because you're overwhelmed and can't easily differentiate them.
Whether you're dating someone or in sales, you won't have much luck if you make everything about you. No matter how incredible you or your product may be, people don't want to hear someone talk about themselves all day. What they really want is to have a conversation, and have someone listen to them. It used some of the same aggregated data sources that were feeding into the Optimizer, and at times both seemed to send the campaigns to the same unlikely ad blocks—for example, in reruns on TV Land.
Although the voter opinion tables that emerged from the Cave looked a lot like polls, the analysts who produced them were disinclined to call them polls. The campaign had plenty of those, generated by a public-opinion team of eight outside firms, and new arrivals at the Chicago headquarters were shocked by the variegated breadth of the research that arrived on their desks daily. The lead pollster, Joel Benenson, had respondents write about their experiences. A quartet of polling firms were assigned specific states and asked to figure out which national themes fit best with local concerns.
But the campaign had to play defense, too. Simas would monitor Community conversations to see which news events penetrated voter consciousness.
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There were simply more undecided voters in such states—sometimes nearly twice as many as the traditional pollsters found. A basic methodological distinction explained this discrepancy: The rivalry between the two units trying to measure public opinion grew intense: The scope of the analytic research enabled it to pick up movements too small for traditional polls to perceive. Green Bay was the only media market in the state to experience such a shift, and there was no obvious explanation. But it was hard to discount. Whereas a standard person statewide poll might have reached respondents in the Green Bay area, analytics was placing 5, calls in Wisconsin in each five-day cycle—and benefiting from tens of thousands of other field contacts—to produce microtargeting scores.
Analytics was talking to as many people in the Green Bay media market as traditional pollsters were talking to across Wisconsin every week. In the end, Romney took the county For the most part, however, the analytic tables demonstrated how stable the electorate was, and how predictable individual voters could be. The analytic data offered a source of calm. Those who answered that question with a seven or below on a point scale were disregarded as not inclined to vote. As a result, the Republicans failed to account for voters that the Obama campaign could be mobilizing even if they looked to Election Day without enthusiasm or intensity.
Each day, the campaign overlaid the lists of early voters released by election authorities with its modeling scores to project how many votes they could claim as their own. Wagner sorted them by microtargeting projections and found that 58, had individual support scores over That amounted to The numbers settled almost exactly where Wagner had said they would: A few days after the election, as Florida authorities continued to count provisional ballots, a few staff members were directed, as four years before, to remain in Chicago.
Their instructions were to produce another post-mortem report summing up the lessons of the past year and a half. The undertaking was called the Legacy Project, a grandiose title inspired by the idea that the innovations of Obama should be translated not only to the campaign of the next Democratic candidate for president but also to governance. Obama had succeeded in convincing some citizens that a modest adjustment to their behavior would affect, however marginally, the result of an election.
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Could he make them feel the same way about Congress? Simas, who had served in the White House before joining the team, marveled at the intimacy of the campaign.
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Perhaps more than anyone else at headquarters, he appreciated the human aspect of politics. This had been his first presidential election, but before he became a political operative, Simas had been a politician himself, serving on the city council and school board in his hometown of Taunton, Massachusetts. He ran for office by knocking on doors and interacting individually with constituents or those he hoped would become constituents , trying to track their moods and expectations.
In many respects, analytics had made it possible for the Obama campaign to recapture that style of politics. Though the old guard may have viewed such techniques as a disruptive force in campaigns, they enabled a presidential candidate to view the electorate the way local candidates do: Few events in American life other than a presidential election touch million adults, or even a significant fraction that many, on a single day.
Certainly no corporation, no civic institution, and very few government agencies ever do. Obama did so by reducing every American to a series of numbers. Yet those numbers somehow captured the individuality of each voter, and they were not demographic classifications. The scores measured the ability of people to change politics—and to be changed by it.
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How Obama’s Team Used Big Data to Rally Voters
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How important do you think it is for you and your partner to agree on politics?
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