“If the Democratic party were a body, Bernie Sanders would be the heart and Hillary Clinton the brain”
No one expects the Spanish Inquisition – and initially, nobody expected Barack Obama to have a real chance – even more so to get re-elected for a second term. What was his secret? It was being both the brains and the heart.
His method was using data to gain insight into what people care about and address that issue at each and every rally right there and then. When the issue was burning the most.
For us non-US observers it is worth remembering that the key to winning the candidacy as well as the election is not necessarily winning the votes of those who walk to the ballots. It’s about engaging those who wouldn’t.
A datadriven digital strategy
A datadriven strategy enables you to identify the issues that engage your audience.
For his first term election campaign, Obama succeeded in engaging a generation – the generation of social media which was just about to take off at the time.
He was the first major political candidate to understand the power of sentiments and the power of the voice of the people outside the established channels such as television and news anchors.
By 2012 for the re-election he – or his team of advisors – had understood the power of using data to refine the message and making it timely.
The power of the crowd
As I am writing this article, the final numbers for Iowa have not yet come in, but it is a 50-50 race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. In social media, Bernie Sanders has won (according to this Reuters analysis.)
Sanders was mentioned 77,000 times versus Clinton’s 55,000 times (Brandwatch) and gained 15,699 new Facebook followers on the one day. Clinton’s Facebook page only came third with 6,210 new followers that day, trailing Donald Trump’s 10,704.
As in all data, one must not jump to easy conclusions and take the number at it’s face value. There can be many different reasons why someone chooses to like a Facebook page – you could be liking an opponent to observe and learn, or to troll and create a disturbance. The second level of such an analysis should therefore always be a sentiment analysis and catalogueing the social media influence of these new followers to be able to conclude credibly whether this will impact a future election result.
But one thing is certain – you could easily turn the intelligence gathered from this analysis into a practical campaign such as Obama did. One example is given below where the objective was to engage would-be supporters who just had not registered to vote with BigData combined with TV advertisement.
I can’t wait to read more analyses on how the candidates fare by making their data speak. May the best data whisperer win.
More interesting links to the impact of social media on US elections:
- Pew Research Center August 15, 2012
- Wikipedia: Barack Obama on Social Media
- The Washington Post May 26, 2015
- Use it or Lose it – Pulitzer Center February 22, 2013