It’s not been an easy week or so for many of us in the US. Why did the election results surprise so many? How could we not have known how divided a country we were?
And what happened to a belief in the principles of fairness, respect, and equality for all, which formed the foundation of our democracy — despite an election’s outcome? One explanation is that many relied on predictions, polls, and data and misjudged the impact of voters’ emotions and sentiment on the race . . . and badly so.
Four years ago, just after I joined Forrester, one of the first blog posts I wrote was about how the smart use of data helped elect Obama as our 44th president. In that post, I talked about how Obama and his team employed data science from the start to understand the electorate and target their engagement and messaging effectively to inspire voters to action.
In fact, to quote that blog post:
“What I found the most fascinating is how the use of data, the right data, served as the foundation for Obama’s successful reelection. Starting on election night, the analysts on the best-known news shows were already talking about how calm and confident the Obama team members were. And why were they confident? According to Obama’s team, it had the data to back up its march to a second term. The team members believed that data and how they used it was one of the biggest advantages they had over the Romney campaign. Think about that for a minute. Obama, traditionally seen as the image and message guy, ran his reelection campaign based on using the right data effectively. And it worked.