Analytics and Politics

So predictive analytics has entered the world of politics?

In his Blog post titled Rock the Vote with Predictive Analytics, Timothy Powers explains how predictive analytics supports a political campaign. Well that makes great sense – advanced analytics has supported marketing efforts for years, and isn’t a political campaign all about marketing to voters?

Predictive analytics is all about driving the right outcomes – whether that is getting citizens to vote for a candidate or increasing the probability of a prospect responding to a marketing campaign – it’s about the outcome. Success in this regard is highly dependent upon available data. In both politics and marketing, this data includes the growing volume of user generated content.

Mr. Powers points out that everyone – from large political organizations to local campaign strategists – is putting a premium on analyzing vast amounts of data. He identifies those data sources that are useful to a political campaign: voter files, election returns, census data, opinion polls, surveys, social media and demographic information. So we have plenty of data – but much like the corporate dilemma – it’s difficult to make sense of it all.

The challenge is addressed by three critical steps in the analytical process:

  1. Find and organize relevant data
  2. Analyze and extract relevant insight
  3. Understand and act on insight

As described in his Rock the Vote Blog, analytics help a campaign better understand constituents and determine the issues and messages that are most important to that audience. Relevant insight could include those things that shape, influence and impact voter decisions and intentions. From an action perspective, insight helps a campaign understand how to reach voters, when to make contact, and what messages should be communicated.

In effectively managing the steps in the analytical process, a political campaign can deliver the outcomes described by Mr. Powers:

  • Target resources on “likely” supporters
  • Persuade undecided voters
  • Ensure citizens vote

As described by Mr. Powers, the technology is being used in the following way:

“Candidates and their campaign strategists are using the software to analyze, model, and score demographic and behavioral data, along with attitudes and opinions, to find voters most likely to support a particular candidate or to reach the important undecided or swing vote.”

 In business and in politics, data will lead to the insight that drives action. To get there, you need to effectively apply the right analytical methods to the problem at hand.

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