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Obama, Romney Data Scientists Strike Out On Their Own 120

Posted by timothy
from the hive-of-scum-and-villainy dept.
dcblogs writes "The self-described nerds of President Obama's presidential campaign last year are back using big data analytics, this time to help Newark Mayor Cory Booker achieve a landside primary win Tuesday in the New Jersey Democratic primary for a vacant U.S. Senate seat. The data scientists from Obama and Romney campaigns recently formed their own consulting businesses within months of each other. The chief data scientist for Romney's campaign, Alex Lundry, co-founded Deep Root Analytics. He gives credit to the Obama campaign's data effort in 2012. But since last year's election, "what you are seeing is a flurry of activity on the right to make sure that we not only catch them, but surpass them," Lundry said. Meanwhile, the co-founder of BlueLabs, Chris Wegrzyn, a senior member of Obama's 2012 campaign analytics department, says last year was turning point for big data analytics in elections. "Usually the nerds in the back room don't warrant a great deal of attention, especially in politics," said Wegrzyn, "but the world is changing.""
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Obama, Romney Data Scientists Strike Out On Their Own

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Politicians mining the data to see which opinions they need to have during the election to get them elected.
    Once elected they continue to do what they really wanted to do anyway.

    • Politicians mining the data to see which opinions they need to have during the election to get them elected.
      Once elected they continue to do what they really wanted to do anyway.

      Are broken promises really that much worse than kept bad promises? The triumph of hope over experience depends on the former.

    • by craigminah (1885846) on Friday August 16, 2013 @08:34PM (#44590213)
      It still amazes me that people believe politicians are actually going to do what they promise while campaigning. The only way to objectively look at a candidate and what they might do if elected is to see what they did in their most previous office.
      • by houghi (78078)

        The real problem is that you don't have a choice. A two party system does not really give you a choice.
        I mean, if you are pro-gun and pro-choice, what party are you going to vote for?
        Either way, you will get disappointed, because one of the things you care for will be not what you wanted it to be.

        • You'll have to compromise on what you find more important: would you rather be more pro-gun, or more pro-choice? I mean, I'd love to have a 1000 HP car that gets at least 50 MPG. I'm always disappointed that I can't get a car that does both.

          • At this point our cars don't even need to run on gasoline refined from crude oil. But we lack the freedom to do it any other way. Its been explained and cited out 500 different ways from many intelligent speakers on the issue. Yet people will still come on here and argue about the system "working as intended" still.

          • by router (28432)

            Horrible car analogy. 1000 HP and 50 MPG are engineering extremes (current tech, gas, etc.).

            What he's asking for is for his Federal politicians in the US to actually uphold the 2nd Amendment and the 10th Amendment. Or any of the other ones. Or have a party whose platform doesn't consist of the opposite of the other party's platform.

            Parent, all we can do is vote third party (pick one, doesn't matter). Until any third party has a viable chance no reasonable candidates will run, no politicians will heed the wi

      • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

        For a first time office, that is impossible. The president has different responsibilities from a legislator. That makes their responses different. New information, New advisors, and the candidate ceases to exist.

        So it really only works for reelection, and then the evil you know may be better than the one you don't.

      • Even then, what they do once elected could still be 180 if they serve different interests the next time around. Right now its big business, and military industrial. Aka anti terrorism and copyright. As well as the racket that "Insurance" companies are.

        And aerospace.

        • As well as big oil. I forgot to mention the power and energy and telecommunications monopolies. (who have a stranglehold on your transportation as well)

    • Well, according to Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, the only hope is to elect ultra conservative Republicans like Rand Paul.

      http://www.campusreform.org/blog/?ID=4989 [campusreform.org]

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think you need to clarify that in year 2013 words like "ultra conservative" in respect to US politics are fucking worthless.

        Clarification that only an "ultra conservative" would considered ending the TSA, rolling back the state security apparatus, and ending our foreign campaigns of conquest, war, and sabotauge, ending the war on drugs, common sense, and most other gross abuses of state authority.

        • I think you need to clarify that in year 2013 words like "ultra conservative" in respect to US politics are fucking worthless.

          Don't tell me that, you moron, tell the hero of the left, Julian Assange. He is the one that made the statement, I'm just letting you know what he said.

          But really, you just can't accept that someone who cares so much about the world (Mr. Assange) would actually praise someone not of the far left. The truth is obvious in your screed. "Not by my definition of ultra-conservative, those damn racist neocons."

          Clarification that only an "ultra conservative" would considered ending the TSA, rolling back the state security apparatus, and ending our foreign campaigns of conquest, war, and sabotauge, ending the war on drugs, common sense, and most other gross abuses of state authority.

          The Progressives who have held power for at least four years haven't done so, have they? The Democrats ar

    • by alen (225700)

      yes, when William Jennings Bryan did it, they called it populism. its now known as pandering to the masses

    • by jafiwam (310805)

      Politicians mining the data to see which opinions they need to have during the election to get them elected. Once elected they continue to do what they really wanted to do anyway.

      Not quite. A politician in charge of the NSA able to wiretap anything "accidentally" able to track in real time how to manipulate elections. Same politician who sent the IRS after political enemies.

      I can't wait for this infrastructure to be used against the other party when the time comes. It'll be delicious.

    • I'm kind of amazed that so many people here misunderstand what the Obama data was used for. It was not used to change minds, at least not primarily. It was used to identify people who might be persuaded to actually get out and vote and then to bug them until they did.

  • Stats: (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by ackthpt (218170)

    GOP still lashing out - voting against debates on networks making Hillary Clinton movies.

    Madness? I don't know what to think, but it seems to be cutting nose off to spite face.

    • Not sure how you don't think NBC and CNN both airing complimentary movies promoting Hillary while ignoring the ugly facts that would detract from her isn't partisan. I for one am happy the GOP got a pair and did this...screw NBC and CNN. Hillary has done little to warrant being President.
      • Hillary has done little to warrant being President.

        Maybe you're eying a different metric. Looking at the numbers [foxnews.com], she appears more than qualified.

        • by Mashiki (184564)

          You mean besides leaving americans high and dry, and bending over backwards to kiss Obama's ass on every scandal that's come out of his administration.

          • Your righteous indignation is noted. But that's not how the institutional 'contributors' see things.

            • by Mashiki (184564)

              True enough on that. After all, all that BS must be tasty. There's no other explanation.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't want scientific advances in getting me to vote for someone: I want scientific advances in governmental process. I want someone who understands that our approach to representative democracy is poorly implemented. I want someone willing to say that our electoral algorithms are totally crap. I want someone to take on strategic voting scientifically, and I want someone who acknowledges the problem of congress failing to pass things supported by > 3/4 of people (thats enough to pull of a constitutiona

    • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      The whole point is you are an outlier. Politics is all about mobilizing an uninformed yet passionate base. The more ignorant and irrational the better.

      And nowhere near enough reasonable people to make a dent.

      The two party system is the ultimate stasis point. There is always someone to demonize, and always someone on your side. You can hate a person and live their party due to normal turnover. The ultimate straw man to draw attacks without real harm.

      And the few reasonable and intelligent people are irrelevan

  • by vilanye (1906708) on Friday August 16, 2013 @08:14PM (#44590077)
    There were so many voters that they didn't even know existed.

    Anyone with the tiniest bit of intelligence knew Romney didn't have a chance to even make it close, much less win, yet Romney et.al. believed in their make believe statistics. Which is why they where throwing money away in WI and PA where they had zero chance when they were behind in OH,CO, IA and FL, places they at least had a decent shot at.

    On the other hand, Obama's team was first class and knew exactly where to spend money, down to specific districts and won easily.

    I know who I would hire.
    • by s.petry (762400) on Friday August 16, 2013 @09:05PM (#44590397)
      While correct that it works, it's a horrible and method that should be shunned. A campaign is not supposed to be about marketing, it's supposed to be about voting someone into office that will look out for the citizens best interests. You simply don't get that by voting for people based on fast-food type advertizing and giving away phones. Marketing gets you what we have for a President and House currently (and all the way back to the 70s), which has not been working very well.
      • by vilanye (1906708)
        I do agree with you in part, but even if you have the best interests of the people, you still need to market yourself to win any election. From a local school board member all the way up to the President.

        How do you get your views out there? By marketing. Just because you have a pure heart, doesn't mean it isn't marketing.
        • by QilessQi (2044624)

          Jimmy James beautifully sums up the virtues of advertising in this NewsRadio clip:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JGKTgfpeUs [youtube.com]

          • by timeOday (582209)
            Hey, I never knew the guy who played the boss at News Radio was the same guy who said "I believe you have my stapler" and burned down the building in Office Space.

            Just when I thought today was a total write-off.

        • by s.petry (762400)

          You are confusing public speaking with marketing. A politician should be able to voice his concerns to the people, and the people should agree with them in their suggestions for remedy and changes. Marketing is about creating excitement based on extraneous information that has little to nothing to do with the product.

          If you described a hamburger using just the ingredients, how many people would buy it? If you add pretty girls in skimpy outfits and handsome muscular men saying "mmm" in a sensual way with

          • by vilanye (1906708)
            I feel I am on the wrong side of things here because I despise marketing whores and ignore marketing as much as possible and when I can't I put that company on my do not buy list, because they were obnoxious enough to get my attention.

            But what the candidate is doing when giving speeches/talking to people IS marketing.

            They are telling them who they are, what they believe and what they hope to accomplish. To put a crass spin on it, they are buffing and polishing the product(themselves) to get people t
      • Marketing gets you what we have for a President and House currently (and all the way back to the 70s), which has not been working very well.

        You're not seeing this from the designers' point of view.. You only need to build the structure strong enough to keep the rain out... Anything more is excessive.

      • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Friday August 16, 2013 @10:27PM (#44590935)

        Given that campaigning for political office was well described by Macchiavelli in his book "The Prince", published 1532, it seems to have been a fundamental part of politics and of any leadership since the the invention of the printing press. I think we can safely say it's built into human society.

        • by s.petry (762400) on Friday August 16, 2013 @11:14PM (#44591209)

          The inventor of the Republic wisely stated "The success of the Republic requires that the citizens are highly educated." and "In order for a Republic to succeed a Political class of citizens must be guarded against.". I'm not sure why you would promote a book that was either satire against self proclaimed nobles abusing citizens or a lesson book for abuse, over "The Republic".

          Simply because something was written should not mean it has to match reality. Pardon me for an abrupt departure, those pesky Hobbits are digging up my carrots again.

          • While reality does not need to match literature, the existence of literature including political campaigning from 500 years ago is a strong indication of its long history and common usage. Similarly, saying that "The Republic" describes justice and injustice does not mean that you are promoting injustice. It merely means that the concepts are old and commonly cited as guidelines for human behavior.

            But since "The Republic" itself was a form of political advertising for standards of "justice", I hope that yo

            • by s.petry (762400)

              The point I was making is similar to your example. We can look at the philosophy and say "that is good" and "that is bad". The problems we see today are the same we have throughout history. The people in power believe in Aristotle's warped views, and Macchiavelli's disgusting views, and ruin society for personal gain (ruin being a long term result, but apparent to anyone looking at what happens.). Meanwhile, the citizens are kept ignorant to other Philosophies believing that what they are given by peopl

      • "A campaign is not supposed to be about marketing, it's supposed to be about voting someone into office that will look out for the citizens best interests."

        Many human beings (and hence citizens) don't know what their interests are unfortunately because the way the mind reasons doesn't work how we thought it did. Western governments are based on enlightenment view of citizenship that science shows is totally false.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYmi0DLzBdQ [youtube.com]

      • by Tablizer (95088)

        Whaddya expect from a species that just evolved from poo-flinging apes? The flinging never went away, just changed delivery mechanism.

  • Since the main claim to fame for the founder is failure of the Orca system, why hire them?
    • Because some people will pay dearly for sensible-sounding but skewed analyses that can be used to raise money, or rally support. Why would anyone watch fox news if they are inaccurate? ... no, I don't like it either :(
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 16, 2013 @08:26PM (#44590171)

    What annoys the hell out of me is that politians can be so scientific when collecting votes but never when actually discussing policy? Then it's always slogans and 'gotchas' and extremely superficial crap. Why never discuss the economy in detail? Get the numbers and try to figure out what they mean?

    The media doesn't help much either. Why can they explain these statistics about voters in great detail, but when you see any numbers related to policy it's just fragments to 'prove' some stupid oppinion? Why never seriously analyse the numbers rather using it selectively to blame Bush/Obama/Clinton/etc. and pretend you're actually looking at the numbers.

    • by mc6809e (214243)

      What annoys the hell out of me is that politians can be so scientific when collecting votes but never when actually discussing policy?

      Because science works to help collect votes, but science doesn't actually work on voters.

    • by vilanye (1906708)
      Simple: Because our educational system is at such a low point that any serious economic policy discussion is going go over the majorities heads.

      It is a sad state of affairs in the US. Take a freshman level macro or micro economics course and one freshman level calculus course and pass and you are now heads and shoulders above the average American in those topics.
  • No it's not. The character of the politician (and the people who vote for them) has remained the same for thousands of years. Bunch of dam carny hucksters they are, and always will be as long as the tactic works. These 'scientists' are just trying to 'improve' the art of book making.

  • Smart (Score:5, Insightful)

    by th3rmite (938737) on Friday August 16, 2013 @08:41PM (#44590253)
    This is absolutely awesome. They are using science to figure out the most effective lies.
    • So Science huh, well here are the facts, research them yourself if you do not believe me,

      The 2012 election turnout of qualified voters was the lowest percentage of such voter turnout since before 1948, perhaps of all time as my research only went back that far.
      The qualified voter turnout percentage in the 2012 presidential election was around 50% and this was divided up between Obama, Romney and others.

      The real winner of the 2012 election is the "No Vote" and what this says is that people are recognizing th

  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Friday August 16, 2013 @09:56PM (#44590723) Journal
    We should have a draft. We would get a far better representation.
    • by eriks (31863)

      That is a great idea. At least until we have Multivac:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franchise_(short_story) [wikipedia.org]

      But seriously. That would solve a lot of issues. A completely random selection of the public to sit in the Senate and the House would give a much more interesting cross section of the American public. Right now the idea probably wouldn't even be controversial. Even just doing that a few times, say, 20 years, and then letting elections proceed normally again (with sensible campaign finance rules) mi

    • by riverat1 (1048260)

      Probably not after the paid lobbyists get done wining and dining them.

  • Really, the data people were pretty marginal in the last election - not because they didn't have the data, but because they didn't know the right question to ask.

    The election came down to about 400,000 votes in a few counties. The question should have been: how do we get the most number of voters in those specific counties to show up at the polls?

    Obama's organization didn't matter - he got massive amounts of free press, so his get out the vote drive was pretty much moot. It's always a plus when the press is

    • Romney and the GOP were living in the bubble they paid to create for their sucker fan base. Their "experts" were telling them what they wanted to hear-- that is for the customers not for the management. They were shocked at the results because their BAD DATA was divorced from reality. They bashed competent people like Nate Silver as being biased -- like they do with their conspiracy theories about all the climate scientists. If it doesn't please them, it just can't be reality! A few people like Rove, I

  • Plain, old-fashioned dirty tricks did.

    -jcr

  • Search Engine Optimisation all boils down to, in the end, "make websites that humans want to find, and search engines will tend over time to detect sites like yours". The SEO best-practices change all the time, but the ones which stick around tend also to be general usability best-practices.

    There doesn't seem to be a similar rule for elections, ie "make candidates that humans want to govern them, and people will tend over time to elect candidates like yours".

    Perhaps this is because nobody has actually tried

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