Why the best data in the world won’t win you an election | Campaigns & Elections

30
Jul

Why the best data in the world won’t win you an election | Campaigns & Elections

Nowadays we talk about data as a solution to the problem of winning elections. It isn’t. Data is an object, not a technology, and objects by themselves do not solve complex problems. Technology does.

What do you think would happen if Tiger Woods gave me his personal set of custom golf clubs to try to qualify for the U.S. Open? I wouldn’t even come close.

What if I tried to qualify for the tournament with a 30-year-old set of clubs that was just run over in the parking lot? It would be the same exact result. No matter the caliber, golf clubs are still just objects. The golfer, though, isn’t.

The best data in the world won’t win you any elections just sitting on a hard drive, the same way that Tiger Woods’ golf clubs won’t help me win the U.S. Open. Thinking data is a perfect tool is a common misconception in the campaign world. Moreover, big data can in fact put a smaller campaign on a fast track to diminishing returns.

At a certain level, data can just become noise. From what we’ve seen, the available volume of cheap data impacts smaller campaigns in a few different ways. When these campaigns get their hands on it, they believe they have an advantage because they feel their opponent may not have the same data. Based on this perceived advantage, they’ll spend lots of time building strategy around it, often too much time.

Learning that there are seven non-primary voters in Omaha’s 7th Congressional District who read Field and Stream is not going to help a candidate get elected. If you have the resources to execute a programmatic microtargeting strategy at this level,  then reaching out to those voters might just make sense. If you’re the other 99.9 percent of campaigns out there, it doesn’t.

via Why the best data in the world won’t win you an election | Campaigns & Elections.

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