Obama Campaign Launching Huge Data Mining Operation

By Newsroom America Staff at 9 Jun 2012

(Newsroom America) -- In 2008 Barack Obama's presidential campaign set the new standard for social media usage and technology, but this time around, experts say, that standard could shoot even higher and help propel him to a reelection victory in what many observers believe will be a tight race in November.

According to a report Saturday in Politico, the 2012 Obama reelection campaign headquarters in Chicago has hired some 150 techies to data mine every byte of information about voters from social media and other sites.

"They know what you read and where you shop, what kind of work you do and who you count as friends. They also know who your mother voted for in the last election," the report said.

The effort far surpasses anything ever seen in politics thus far, according to experts, that it could mean the difference in a close election.

That's not to say that GOP candidate Mitt Romney isn't using technology in his campaign. In fact, the idea that Democrats hold all of the technology advantages, as was once the case, is no longer true, the report said. Still, the Romney campaign likely has nothing on Obama's effort.

For its part, the Obama campaign believes its technolgical advantage will make all the difference, and a number of experts agree.

"It’s all about the data this year and Obama has that. When a race is as close as this one promises to be, any small advantage could absolutely make the difference," Andrew Rasiej, a technology strategist and publisher of TechPresident, told Politico. "More and more accurate data means more insight, more money, more message distribution, and more votes."

Harvard professor and social media expert Nicco Mele agrees.

"If the Obama campaign can combine its data efforts with the way people now live their lives online, a new kind of political engagement — and political persuasion — is possible," Mele said.

The Obama campaign is "way ahead of Romney micro-targeting and it’s a level of precision we haven’t seen before," Darrell M. West, a leading scholar on technology innovation at the Brookings Institution, told Politico.

Romney campaign officials, meanwhile, say they weren't too focused on building a technology platform during the nomination process because they weren't yet sure the former Massachusetts governor would be the nominee. Now that it's certain, Romney's campaign will still handle techology differently; for one, the campaign will outsource much of its data management, in order to build customized solutions.

"As a campaign we would not presume to know more than the collective intelligence and resources of the marketplace," said Romney digital director Zac Moffatt.

"In the end, what is most important is not how many people on any list or how many followers we have — but their engagement level. And our followers are engaged," he said.

© 2012 Newsroom America.

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