How Political Campaigns Use Big Data

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Tactics employed by U.S. presidential campaigns have evolved dramatically since I worked as a speechwriter and press secretary in one of them twenty years ago. Back then, there was no such thing as “Big Data.” The daily talking points I wrote were distributed nationwide by an automated dialing fax machine. And the closest one could get to targeted advertising was deciding on which cable network to run a thirty-second TV spot in which swing state media market.

New, sophisticated tools for real time, predictive data analysis have become a game changer. Nate Silver, who keynoted the EMC Greenplum Data Science Summit 2012, tells The Daily Show With Jon Stewart how U.S. presidential campaigns now leverage Big Data analytics to target undecided voters in the final days of the election season.

Silver is the author of the new book, The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – but Some Don’t. His daily blog, fivethirtyeight.com, is a must read for political prognosticators and anyone interested in how the U.S. presidential election will turn out. In 2008, Silver gained fame for accurately predicting the electoral college winner of 49 of the 50 states.

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