Hillary Clinton’s Best Secret Weapon: Big Data

While Trump has repeatedly said he doesn’t believe in the power of big data, Clinton has been using it as her secret weapon long before the Democratic primaries started.

Big data analytics (in simple terms: using “yuge” sets of data to show patterns, trends, or associations), have helped the Clinton camp skyrocket to the top of national polls. Her aides have likely been able to gather and interpret a huge amount of information on the American electorate — and this information has influenced virtually every move they’ve made.

Let’s take a step back. How is big data useful in campaigns?

Political campaigns gather a lot of information about voters, including where, when, and how they vote, their religious beliefs, and even their favourite T.V. shows. Using all this data, campaigns can predict how to best reach voters, convince them to vote for their candidate, and use all their resources optimally.

So, how much has the Clinton camp been using big data?

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                  Source: Mary Pahlke via Pixabay

A lot.

Elan Kriegel, the campaign’s Director of Analytics and one of the Clinton camp’s first hires, has become one of Clinton’s most trusted aides throughout the election, according to top Clinton staffers.

Political newspaper Politico found that:

What cities Clinton campaigns in and what states she competes in, when she emails supporters and how those emails are crafted, what doors volunteers knock on and what phone numbers they dial, who gets Facebook ads and who gets printed mailers — all those and more have Kriegel’s coding fingerprints on them.

Kriegel has a team of 60 data analysts, rivalling the size of the whole Trump campaign for much of the primary.

What is Trump doing?

For most of this (too-long) election, the Trump campaign ignored the power of big data. They instead relied on the influence of free media – e.g. social networks and coverage on cable TV / major newspapers.

This all changed when Trump spent US$8.4 million to “play digital catch-up” in July. According to NBC, that’s 95% of what he’s spent on digital strategies in the whole campaign.


Trump’s attempt to catch up to Clinton in the data analytics field is probably too little, too late.

Clinton’s campaign may not have inspired crowds the way Obama did in 2008, but it’s efficient, meticulous, and precise. In both the primaries and the general race, the numbers have been on her side (for the most part).

Check out the video below on how Clinton and Trump have been gathering data to help their campaigns:

 

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Source: NBC News

 

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