As the U.S. presidential election nears, it is becoming increasingly clear that insights of data on marketing to consumers are not limited to certain industries, or business in general. The trend may have began with Obama’s re-election campaign, but is has officially made its way in to politics, becoming a critical component to political campaigns. From building and maintaining massive voter databases to gleaning social-data insights into voter behavior, data is the key to a successful campaign. It helps with everything political; from targeting and motivating voters to dynamically determining resource allocations. Big Data is used in politics much in the same way it is used in businesses; but instead of targeting customers, they are targeting voters. Data analytics also help politicians in many of the same ways as the analysis helps business executives. But this also means that many of the challenges of data science overlap as well. But if they can conquer the challenges, they can enjoy infinite opportunities to target and personalize communications to reach people more effectively and to operate more efficiently. So how can data be used to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential race? Voter Connection There’s no question that social media and social data have revolutionized how people participate in the political process today. This was certainly true for the 2008 and 2012 campaigns; since social media engagement has only increased, this is now more true than ever. Candidates can refine their social media messaging to accurately target their voters. They can use the unstructured data from voters’ conversations on social media to gather unique insight about what voters want from a candidate and from their president. Citizens also must input their personal information in order to obtain social media accounts. This information can be used by campaigners to generate a voter database. Social media can also be used to engage voters into political conversations. Is it better to have a supporter keep their support to themselves? Or is it better for them to tell all their social media friends and followers why they want to vote for a particular candidate? Challenges With Data Unification Just like with most businesses, political campaigners are collecting data from many different silos and sources. They’re gathering data from various social media platforms, but they’re also collecting it via email and at campaign events. To be able to use this data and find it helpful and actionable, this data from disparate sources needs to be consolidated to give campaigners a complete and accurate view. Using Analytics to Drive Strategy  Collecting data is one thing, but actually analyzing and putting the insights to use in decision making is key. The data can be used to identify major supporters, identify how to gain the support of swing voters and determine how to allocate resources and funds to get the most bang for their buck. Using Predictive Analytics to Predict Outcomes Predictive analytics are used to predict outcomes; this can be for the Super Bowl, or for a presidential election. This was brought to light back in 2012 when Nate Silver accurately predicted the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. He did it using a variety of data science tools, drawing on multiple data sources and statistical models. But of course, he also recently predicted the UK election and was wrong. In politics, anything can happen.  

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