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Politics Technology

The Data Crunchers Who Helped Win The Election 208

concealment sends in a story at Time that goes behind the scenes with the team of data crunchers that powered many of the Obama campaign's decisions in the lead-up to the election. From the article: "For all the praise Obama's team won in 2008 for its high-tech wizardry, its success masked a huge weakness: too many databases. Back then, volunteers making phone calls through the Obama website were working off lists that differed from the lists used by callers in the campaign office. Get-out-the-vote lists were never reconciled with fundraising lists. It was like the FBI and the CIA before 9/11: the two camps never shared data. ... So over the first 18 months, the campaign started over, creating a single massive system that could merge the information collected from pollsters, fundraisers, field workers and consumer databases as well as social-media and mobile contacts with the main Democratic voter files in the swing states. The new megafile didn't just tell the campaign how to find voters and get their attention; it also allowed the number crunchers to run tests predicting which types of people would be persuaded by certain kinds of appeals. Call lists in field offices, for instance, didn't just list names and numbers; they also ranked names in order of their persuadability, with the campaign's most important priorities first. About 75% of the determining factors were basics like age, sex, race, neighborhood and voting record. Consumer data about voters helped round out the picture. 'We could [predict] people who were going to give online. We could model people who were going to give through mail. We could model volunteers,' said one of the senior advisers about the predictive profiles built by the data. 'In the end, modeling became something way bigger for us in '12 than in '08 because it made our time more efficient.'"
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The Data Crunchers Who Helped Win The Election

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  • vs. Orca (Score:4, Informative)

    by klui ( 457783 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @06:50PM (#41912985)
    I wonder how large this database was compared to Romney's Orca. [] The article said the system crashed. I'm pretty sure that's the system Karl Rove was looking at when he was on Fox News trying to rebut their analysts' projection of an Obama victory in Ohio. []
  • by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @07:41PM (#41913553) Journal

    Yes, we Americans should get a much more logical political system, like the British. Maybe if we had a House of Lords and a royal family, we'd finally enter the 18th century.

    The Queen has a very limited constitutional role that very seldom comes into play. If she did anything outrageous it'd be the end of the monarchy's popularity and the end of the monarchy (the Prime Minister can demand an abdication), so she has to follow the public mood.

    The House of Lords can only delay legislation and send it back to the Commons, and its track record of providing corrective feedback and constructive improvements to bills is actually pretty good.

    House of Commons Select Committees scrutinize every bit of legislation line-by-line before it can proceed. Is there a similar system in the US Capitol or is it true that most of the people voting on bills in the house don't actually read them?

    Members of the British cabinet have to be elected to Parliament, not simply appointed. Nobody gets to be Prime Minister without years of fighting his (or her) way to the front benches, so whoever makes it to the front has a pretty good idea of how the system works by the time they get there.

    Since the executive branch is taken from the legislative branch, a government with a decent sized mandate can actually get stuff done. And then of course there's Prime Minister's questions every Wednesday, where the PM gets a good solid grilling. Could you have imagined Dubya surviving for five minutes in a pit like that?

    Since the head of state (the monarch) is a different person from the executive leader of the country (the Prime Minister) then people can honour the head of state and be as patriotic as they like while treating their political leaders with utter contempt and ousting them when they put a foot wrong. None of this "don't dare criticise the President in a time of war" nonsense. And if the government really does screw up badly enough then a vote of confidence in the Commons can force an election at any time, no staring at the clock waiting for a 4-year term to finish. And if you do happen to get a decent PM then he (or she) gets to stay in office for as long as the people are content for that government to remain, not be ousted at the end of an arbitrary term limit.

    The parliamentary system isn't perfect (what system is?) but it sure as shit has a lot going for it. And since the UK had a female PM before a lot of people on /. were born, maybe you should hold your fire on gloating about how progressive the US system is until Hillary gets back into the White House, this time as President.

    Carry on.

  • by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @08:40PM (#41914121)

    It's the record of whether or not you voted, which is public information. (Which party you declare when you register, and whether you're registered, is also public information.)

    One of the things they talk about in TFA (I know, I know) is that an important part of their model is figuring out whether people are likely to vote and, for those who aren't but could be convinced, what strategy will convince them to vote. Probably your past history of whether you've voted is a component in that analysis.

  • Re:Yeah well (Score:5, Informative)

    by SpottedKuh ( 855161 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @09:20PM (#41914515)

    Are you saying that there aren't local governments in the UK? Because that's not correct in the slightest.

    Or are claiming that the landmass of a nation determines when it can be successful as a monarchy? Because Canada is larger than the US, and functions well enough with a queen and parliamentary system very similar to the UK.

    Or are you claiming that it's population size that determines if a monarchy could work as a form of government? Claiming it doesn't scale with population is as ridiculous as claiming that counting ballots by hand doesn't scale in large populations -- the arguments just make no sense.

  • by jensend ( 71114 ) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @10:34PM (#41915009)

    Yes, only squeaked by. Almost 120 million people voted. If around 130,000 of those - ~50K in VA, ~55K in OH, and ~25K in Florida - had switched to Romney, the outcome would have been a Romney presidency. That's less than 1.5% of VA, less than 1.1% of OH, less than 0.4% of FL, and less than 0.011% of the national vote.

    Nate Silver tried hard to correct your misconception []:

    IMPORTANT: That we have Obama as a ~90% favorite does NOT mean we're predicting a landslide. We expect a close election.

    And a close election is what we had. That the outcome could be predicted with fairly good certainty doesn't mean it wasn't close.

  • by denobug ( 753200 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @01:29AM (#41915787)

    I am sad to say my prediction is very minimal compromise in the short term and further purges of moderates, especially moderate Republicans, for the next 4 years. Eventually the Republicans will have to change course, they just can’t/won’t that soon.

    For the sake of our country I sincerely hope your prediction is not our future. As a moderate Republican I will have no choice but to keep voting for Democrates, straight down the ballot. I will keep on doing this until more Republican leaders emerges (and survives). I think many moderates (Republican or Democrats) in this country share my point of view.

  • by bfandreas ( 603438 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @05:59AM (#41916797)
    The Royal Family is always under scrutiny if it does try to influence policies. At the moment the Prince of Wales is being put under a mganifying glass because of his lobbying for his numerous social causes. The Queen only comes into play when things have gone terribly wrong. What a King/Queen can and can't do has been determined under the Stuarts(one got his head lobbed off, the other had to flee from an orange).

    And that was quite some time ago. Just to boggle the mind for a bit Edward Longshanks had to call in a parliament to raise taxes for his wars. That's the guy you might know from that Braveheart movie that was so popular a couple of years ago. I repeat: Edward the First of England, one of the most autocratic monarchs the country ever saw, had to form a parliament to get things done. And he wasn't the first who had to do just that. "No taxation without representation" is a very old, very English principle.

    Simon de Montfort, who had ousted Edward's daddy for a year or so, even went so far to have non-nobles and fat cats sit in his parliament. Not entirely democratic but at least somewhat elected. And that was mid-13th century. There's a reason why he has a spot on a wall in the US House of Representatives dedicated to him. Stuff like that tends to linger. And once you went there you can't go back.

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