Strategy Based On Data – Will What Worked For The Campaign Work For Governance Too?


So President Obama won a second term. Congratulations to POTUS and all my friends who supported him.  And I do feel bad for several friends who genuinely feel bad that Romney did not win . I didn’t think either candidate had it in them to help this country prosper.  The ideal candidate in my mind needed more Obama like stances on social issues, and a mix of Obama and Romney stances on economic issues.  But that is not going to happen any time soon I guess.

What fascinated me most in this election was the use of quantitative methods in Obama campaign. At a high level, there are 3 things campaigns need to know

1. Who to target to secure enough votes  ?

2. Who to target to get funding  ?

3. What to tell these 2 groups, and using which media ?

And one way or other, the Obama campaign seem to have succeeded on all three, and hence Obama gets to be President for 4 more years. So far so good – but that is not the part that fascinates me.

Now, with the elections behind them – will the administration still invest in big data analytics to govern better? That is the possibility that fascinates me. I sure hope the answer is YES (Not YES WE CAN, but YES WE WILL 🙂 )

Now, the administration does not create laws – Congress does. And given the control of house and senate are not changing according to latest poll results- the chance of a different type of law making is pretty low if nothing changes. But things could change – and if all arms of government can use a little more of decisions based on data, and a little less of “political gut” based decisions – maybe this country can start prospering again. The type of analytics needed for policy making is not exactly the same as the narrow objectives of campaigning – but I would argue that similar principles apply. And just like in enterprise software projects, I suspect that the hard work is less of tech work, its probably change management.

Second presidential terms are all about leaving a legacy, I am told – I would love to remember Obama as the president who used data effectively to win 2 elections, and then used data to effectively govern this great country. Probably wishful thinking on my part – but hey, I make a living doing BI work for my clients, AND I am jet lagged as I am typing this at 2 AM 🙂

I am also rather curious now on whether Indian politicians will use big data analytics in their campaigns. If they do, India might see some interesting times.

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