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The Data Crunching Prowess of Barack Obama 334

Posted by samzenpus
from the mobilizer-in-chief dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Micah Sifry, co-founder of the Personal Democracy Forum, writes that Barack Obama may be struggling in the polls and even losing support among his core boosters, but when it comes to the modern mechanics of identifying, connecting with and mobilizing voters, as well as the challenge of integrating voter information with the complex internal workings of a national campaign, Obama's data analysis team is way ahead of the Republican pack. Alone among the major candidates running for president, the Obama campaign not only has a Facebook page with 23 million 'likes' (roughly 10 times the total of all the Republicans running), it has a Facebook app that is scooping up all kinds of juicy facts about his supporters and inside the Obama operation, his staff members are using a powerful social networking tool called NationalField, which enables everyone to share what they are working on. 'The holy grail of data analysis is data harmonization, or master data management,' says Alex Lundry, a Republican data-mining expert at TargetPoint Consulting. 'To have political talking to finance and finance talking to field, and data is flowing back and forth and informing the actions of each other — it sounds easy, but it's incredibly hard to implement.' Sifry writes that if the 2012 election comes down to a battle of inches, where a few percentage points change in turnout in a few key states making all the difference, we may come to see Obama's investment in predictive modelers and data scientists as the key to victory."
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The Data Crunching Prowess of Barack Obama

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  • All this shows (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2011 @12:31PM (#37664974)
    Is he's good at campaigning. Nobody has ever disputed that nor has he stopped campaigning since he won. He still sucks at presidenting.
    • Re:All this shows (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nursie (632944) on Monday October 10, 2011 @12:43PM (#37665224)

      And call me old fashioned, but wasn't politics supposed to be about politicians spelling out their policies and views, and us voting for someone whose principles and policies we agree with? You know, a process with some integrity?

      Not a whole bunch of refinements based on popular opinion until there's nothing left but a living, breathing popularity poll....

      Maybe I'm just naive.

      • Re:All this shows (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rolfwind (528248) on Monday October 10, 2011 @01:01PM (#37665548)

        And call me old fashioned, but wasn't politics supposed to be about politicians spelling out their policies and views

        I would say, that for the period I've been alive, that the less politicians show of their beliefs, the more advantageous it is for them. They can be amiable and pretend to agree with you and be just as nice to the next guy with completely different viewpoints. The less they show their cards, the less people can pick out something to pick a fight with.

        With the exception of Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, you'll have very few politicians spelling out where they stand and more just dance around it. Listen to debates or townhalls these days, or even past ones - they're an embarrassment. These people should be publicly bitch slapped every time they dance around the question, outright ignore it, or some other scheme where they pander to the electorate without actually really addressing the question. But they get away with it, people reward them with votes, and then bitch afterwards, which is meaningless.

        • The "debates" are now hosted by the parties themselves instead of the League of Women Voters.

          Control of the presidential debates has been a ground of struggle for more than two decades. The role was filled by the nonpartisan League of Women Voters (LWV) civic organization in 1976, 1980 and 1984. In 1987, the LWV withdrew from debate sponsorship, in protest of the major party candidates attempting to dictate nearly every aspect of how the debates were conducted.

          https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/ [wikimedia.org]

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Brett Buck (811747)

        And as long as Obama supporters continue to mount absolutely absurd ad hominem attacks on conservatives, they will be even more motivated to come out and vote him out.

        We have mainstream media attacking Herman Cain as a racist or "race traitor", whatever the hell that means. Not only is that foolish, it's fodder for existing conservatives and highly offensive to a good fraction of existing African-American Democratic voters.

        Obama and Co. may (but prob

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by hackingbear (988354)

        The ultimate destiny of Democratic Process is Political Marketing. The ultimate destiny of Tyranny is a Revolution.

        Choose one of the two.

      • between campaigning and leading. He is very good at promising something yet incredibly good at not delivering it and then brushing off complaints.

        Considering all he promised about protecting our rights and the rights of the combatants we took into custody in the War on Terror why should I believe anything that passes his lips? He is worse than Bush, he has doubled down on nearly every bad part of the Patriot Act that Bush used, hell he used Drones to kill American citizens overseas. And the press remains s

    • Yea, it is pretty much like 2004. We we had to deal the GWB or choose Kerry?
      Bush won because we disliked Kerry more.
      Now the Obama vs. Republicans. So far most of the GOP doesn't really have a presidential candidate that really sparks anyone's fancy. If I had to pick who should run for the GOP right now I would say Romney has the best chance. However I feel the Tea Party has Poisson the sole for electing a GEO presidential candidate. Just like the Anti-War activists Poisson the sole for Kerry when he ran.

      • by arkenian (1560563)
        Okay, I have to know, what WERE you trying to say with "Poisson the sole"?? The closest I can think of is Poison the well, but I'm not sure how you'd manage to screw that up even with MLT.
  • Interesting stuff... seems like a waste, though. Manipulating the masses. Especially the last sentence of the summary, which implies everyone will re-elect Obama and he is already the victor.
    • by FooAtWFU (699187)

      Yeah, reading the field will only get you so far. It's one thing to propose all sorts of hopes and dreams for your first term, but to be re-elected, you need to actually achieve something with your policies. Make of Obama's record there what you will.

      • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday October 10, 2011 @12:39PM (#37665158) Journal

        Or, you need the opposing party to pick a lunatic. With the Tea Party and the religious conservatives in the GOP trying to smash Romney to bits at every opportunity, the possibility that the Republicans may in fact deliver Obama is victory cannot be discounted.

        • Of course then there's the possibility that the Tea Party and religious conservatives will pick a lunatic and this lunatic will actually get elected to be President. There is nobody in the current crop of GOP hopefuls that I think I would vote for except perhaps Jon "We Can't Run From Science But Must Embrace It" Huntsman. Sadly, there are a few in there that actively scare me.

          Two words: President Bachmann (*runs away screaming in terror*)

          • by Nimey (114278)

            Och aye. Huntsman's the only Republican candidate I'd consider voting for, but unfortunately he's not extreme enough to survive the primary.

            Just as unfortunately, there's no way to get someone else to run against Obama in the primaries and win.

        • by rolfwind (528248)

          Or, you need the opposing party to pick a lunatic. With the Tea Party and the religious conservatives in the GOP trying to smash Romney to bits at every opportunity, the possibility that the Republicans may in fact deliver Obama is victory cannot be discounted.

          Romney wants to add 100k troops to the military. The man is a lunatic too. Most national politicians are these days. They reflect the electorate that votes for them, and America is a country, by and large, that can't get its spending under control,

          • by Nadaka (224565)

            The military itself knows it is over staffed and has issued instructions to its recruiters to process reserve enlistments over active duty.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      You of course understand that "the masses" will ONLY respond to certain stimuli and THEY impose the rules for interacting with them.

      Omney or Robama, either way we get a "moderate Republican"....

      Have some George Carlin:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acLW1vFO-2Q [youtube.com]

    • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fermion (181285) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:21PM (#37667158) Homepage Journal
      The thing to remember is that there is only a small percentage of people who are going to vote for the person. In Texas perry won against a strong fiscal conservative because, even though has shown he is fiscally irresponsible and more interested in himself than running the state, Perry is the conservative christian candidate. I know many people who were going to vote for White, who were essentially pushed by their republican christian peers to vote for Perry. Texas as a whole does not have enough independent voters and districts to elect a person based on who they are.

      Likewise, there is a large block that will always vote for the republican candidate even if he is an adulterer, or a drug addict, or porn star, or a tax collector, as long as he says he is a christian conservative now. There is a large block that will always vote for the democratic candidate even if he supports taxing the poor into oblivion. The key then is to identify the districts that enough independent voters to make a difference. Alternatively one can register voters that otherwise would not vote because they know that it really makes no difference. Either party is going to steal from the poor and give to the rich, as was shown with the car bailout that was supported by Bush and Obama.

      So the republicans can often win just by, like Perry and Romney do and Bush and Reagan did, pretending to be christian and conservative and racking in the votes. Pray, thank god, tell a teary story, and rake in the cash. However democrats actually have to do work, find the key districts, get the people registered, convince them that helping others is the best way to help themselves(do unto others as you would have them...) and hope that one can squeak by. Obama did a masterful job of this, and, along with the help of Palin, won many districts. This time he will not likely have the help of people like Palin, or Bachman, and at the point of the real election no one will saying Romney is not a christian, so it will be a harder election.

      The election, if won by Obama, will be won on the margins, district by district, registering voters in key states. If you do not believe this, then why are republicans making it harder to register voters rather than easier? If one says to prevent voter fraud, then one has drank the republican kool aid and really mean nothing to either party. There are not enough fundamentalist to win an election, so fundamentalist have no individual power.

  • I'm not convinced that Facebook likes translate into election victory yet. When the President is re-elected, it will be because he's still far more charismatic and interesting than any current Republican contenders. I don't like his politics but I like him more than Romney, Perry, et al.

    The generation that lives and dies by Facebook still doesn't show up at the polls in significant numbers.
    • I'm not convinced either. We actually host and manage several political websites for various groups, mostly conservative organizations (We're politically neutral, as long as it isn't inflammatory we'll host just about anything). Many of the member's of these groups will click 'Like' on things they don't really like, just so they can share it with their circle of friends, not because they actually agree with the content of a certain page. I see this all the time in their feeds. I wonder how many of those 23
    • Re:I'm not convinced (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday October 10, 2011 @12:48PM (#37665300)

      When the President is re-elected, it will be because he's still far more charismatic and interesting than any current Republican contenders. I don't like his politics but I like him more than Romney, Perry, et al.

      Are you honestly saying that the Presidential campaign is nothing but a popularity contest which has nothing to do with the merit of their respective political views or actions? I am... totally not shocked, actually. The presidential campaign has become more or less just a popularity contest. Although I'm pretty sure that increasing his appeal to voters is precisely the point of this campaign.

      Which is somewhat sad. The only reason data mining like this is useful is if you intend to modify your political basis towards what is popular. In other words, you aren't electing someone based on what their views are, you elect them based on what they think your views are. Frankly, I would rather politicians actually just came out and said what their views are... but apparently, that can't happen anymore. No, politicians will now be elected based on how well they can adapt themselves to what Internet commentators say. That seems to me to be the point of Obama's campaign tools, anyways. Unfortunately, this does not make for good presidential candidates. Good presidents tend to know themselves what needs to be done and do what they think is right, not what the masses think. Because honestly? The masses are idiots, no matter how intelligent they may be individually.

    • by DeadDecoy (877617)
      Would you like to vote for the douche or the turd sandwich? : /
    • by couchslug (175151)

      None of these pieces of shit from either party are "charismatic" unless one has extremely low standards for charisma.

  • That's what Karl Rove did for decades. There's a classic picture of Karl Rove with a 12" reel of computer tape. He was able to turn demographic and polling data into information on how, when, and where to tell people what they wanted to hear.

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Monday October 10, 2011 @12:42PM (#37665206) Homepage Journal

    Disclaimer: I am NOT choosing sides in this post.

    The notion that the Obama team is the only one in the prospective 2012 race to understand data mining and acting on numbers is pretty shallow. Rick Perry has a well documented (and apparently very well run) data mining team that he has used in the past and would no doubt use again in a presidential bid... More info here: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/22/rick-perrys-scientific-campaign-method/ [nytimes.com] and here: http://www.thevictorylab.com/ [thevictorylab.com] and in this E-book: http://www.amazon.com/Rick-Perry-His-Eggheads-ebook/dp/B005HE8ED4 [amazon.com]

  • Can this farce of a political system get any worse?

    • by vlm (69642)

      Can this farce of a political system get any worse?

      Oh Yeah, election by /. poll:

      1) Bachmann/Palin
      2) Obama/whoever the VP is today
      3) Ron Paul write in
      4) Cowboy Neal
      5) Goatse man, because he understands what the financial industry is doing to America

    • Please, don't ask. I have a high degree of confidence that not only can it, it probably will.

    • Um, yes?

  • Not Necessarily True (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nova Express (100383) <lawrencepersonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday October 10, 2011 @12:45PM (#37665260) Homepage Journal

    Rick Perry's campaign, for instance, is well-known for using social-science methods to rigorously test various campaign tools [nytimes.com], including controlled experiments on what actually worked and what didn't.

    As, as long as we're talking about Perry, you know that "Perry cut firefighters budgets" story that went around a month ago? It's not true. [battleswarmblog.com] The Texas legislature authorized, and Perry signed, an 80% increase in wildfire fighting and prevention funding for the 2012-2013 biennium.

  • by vlm (69642) on Monday October 10, 2011 @12:49PM (#37665336)

    How do you know if a candidate is "liked" or "+1" because they'll vote for them in the election, or because they'll be easy to beat?

    The Dali Lama has "recently" joined G+ and I've circled and +1'd him, because he is one of the very few "world leaders" I actually respect. That is an entirely different relationship from me +1'ing Palin because I think she is the most easy to beat out of the R field; +1 for being a humorous caricature in her field.

    I suppose you could analyze my other +1s to figure out I don't want to throw my vote away on a D or R, and I'm gonna vote straight LP (unless RP is somehow on the ballot for the R in which case I'd hold my nose only a little tiny bit and vote for him). So maybe that data would show LP supporters think the best way for the R to lose is to put up Palin (or her cronies), or if they want LP supporters maybe they need a party plank that if they win RP will be the next (last?) chairman of the Fed. That might be actionable data, might not.

  • by kidcharles (908072) on Monday October 10, 2011 @12:51PM (#37665384)
    Now, if he hadn't spent the last 2.5 years largely doing exactly the opposite of what he campaigned on, angering his base to no end, he might be able to make better use of all of that data management. No amount of carefully worded campaign e-mails are going to convince me to vote for a President who has normalized extra-judicial assassinations of American citizens by the CIA.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      Your not voting doesn't matter. Your binary choice between candidates doesn't matter much.

      Obama understands that political polarization really means you are stuck with him or a Republican.

      As for attacks on enemy troops, many Americans are supportive of killing enemy combatants, especially Muslims. I'm liking Obama more in his incarnation as a "moderate Republican", and his work with Panetta is an intelligent way to fight against Jihadists.

      Any American who believes in the beastly superstition of Islam merits

    • by rickb928 (945187)

      "No amount of carefully worded campaign e-mails are going to convince me to vote for a President who has normalized extra-judicial assassinations of American citizens by the CIA."

      Um, just to be clear, George W. Bush isn't running, ok?

  • It's got computers. It's got Democrats. It's got Republicans. It's got Facebook and datamining. It's got high priced consultants of dubious worth.

    What else does it need?

    Now we just have to figure out how there can be huge flame ridden disagreements about it.

    Oh wait. It's already started.

  • by Hatta (162192)

    And yet, the streets are full of protesters. If anything, people today have less hope than they did in 2008. Nothing changed, and he's going to have to run on that record.

    At this point it's abundantly clear that if you vote for either major party, you are throwing your vote away. Vote third party or stay home.

    • If you vote for a third party, all you're doing is making it more likely that the candidate who is closest to your views will lose.

      At least it will be that way with the current voting system in most states.

      FIRST you have to change the voting rules so that a candidate you want to endorse has a chance of actually winning the election.
      https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Voting_system [wikimedia.org]

      Start locally by improving the voting system in your district / state.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Any candidate who wants radical change in the system in any direction is closer to my views than any democrat or republican, who simply want to preserve the status quo.

  • He has a Facebook page! That is just absofuckinglutely bleeding edge, there, baby!

    I look forward to our precise and data analyzed to death future! Yay!

  • Because facebook "Likes" is a good polling mechanic... especially when those likes could have been bade 4 years ago, the people may not remember "liking it" or even log into their facebook account anymore.
  • disturbing... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Monday October 10, 2011 @01:46PM (#37666462) Journal

    > it has a Facebook app that is scooping up all kinds of juicy facts about his supporters and inside the Obama operation, his staff members are using a powerful social networking tool called NationalField, which enables everyone to share what they are working on.

    Does anyone else find this a little creepy?

    In any case, I think the team may be making an assumption that will skew the numbers. They're not really measuring Obama supporters, they're measuring Obama supporters who are stupid enough to enter the security scorpion pit that is Facebook apps. This has to be a smaller, less technically minded subset of Obama's actual supporters.

    Doesn't it?

  • by sgt_doom (655561) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:18PM (#37667106)
    Forgot to mention his statement on the pre-decided guilt of Bradley Manning, whom the commander-in-chief has illegally kept in jail when he is supposed to be granted a speedy courts-martial. And negative, Obama, the banksters did break the law: many millions of times over in filing millions of false affidavits (that equals millions of felonies) and falsely filing wrongful IRS reports (in violation of tax-exempt REMIC status), and millions of violations of Article 3 of the Uniform Commerical Code.

The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. -- Confucius

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