Friday, November 16, 2012

The Role of Data Analysis in "Get Out The Vote" Operations

In this article in The Atlantic, Ben Jacobs describes the failures of the Romney campaign's "ORCA" software platform.  ORCA was supposed to help the campaign identify which likely Romney voters had already cast their ballots.   Thus, they could focus get-out-the-vote operation resources on voters who hadn't gone to the polls yet. 
It turns out that the Obama campaign had tried something similar in 2008, and that system had also crashed.   The Obama campaign learned its lesson from this experience. They came to the conclusion that such an election day system was not feasible.   For 2012 they went with a system called "Narwhal" that targeted likely voters before election day. 

So in a sense the Romeny campaign was on cycle behind from a technical perspective -- they learned a lesson that the Obama campaign had learned 4 years earlier. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nate Silver and Big Data

There are a host of post-election stories on Nate Silver's success in using statistical analyses to predict the outcome of the election overall as well as the the outcome of voting on a state by state basis.  For example, in this article from InformationWeek, Eric Lundquist ruminates on how to apply Silver's success to business.

If you are interested in the nuts and bolts of how Silver uses data to make predictions, here are a few links from Silver's blog on the New York Times site.  One is an explanation of his methodology, the other a glossary of terms:

Or, you can go right to the source and read Silver's book The Signal and the Noise: