Big Data Takes Center Stage In The 2012 Presidential Election
In every election, campaigns, consultants and pollsters analyze boatloads of information to identify and target millions of voters and to conduct surveys that seem to proliferate like rabbits. But the use of big data takes place behind the scenes.
Not anymore. Social networking powerhouses Facebook and Twitter have thrown themselves into the fray, leveraging their gigantic user bases to predict in real time where Barack Obama and Mitt Romney stand in their race for the White House.
In July, Facebook and CNN teamed up on an interactive Facebook application called “I’m Voting,” which will let Facebook users commit to vote for a candidate and share their conviction with other users. It also will enable CNN to survey voting-age users and report results of the virtual polling during its election coverage.
Twitter upped the ante in August, unveiling the Twitter Political Index, a joint effort with social data analytics provider Topsy Labs and two national polling companies, the Mellman Group and North Star Opinion Research. More than 400 million tweets a day are scoured for political content and analyzed to show how people feel about the presidential candidates.
“The Twitter Political Index lends new insight into the natural, unprompted opinion of the electorate,” said Adam Sharp, Twitter’s Head of Government, News and Social Innovation.
Therein lies the rub, because neither Facebook nor Twitter can claim to represent the U.S. electorate. Social networks tend to skew toward an upscale, younger demographic, and they skirt lower-class neighborhoods like tourists in Las Vegas who never leave the Strip. Put another way, the elderly women in Philadelphia who doesn’t have a photo ID also probably doesn’t tweet much or contribute to the 15 terabytes of new information on Facebook every day.
In fact, technology can be a two-edged sword. Remember the 1948 election, when the polls predicted a Dewey landslide over Truman? That election marked the first time pollsters relied on telephone surveys, giving them access to more voters—big data back then. It turned out that a lot of Truman supporters didn’t have phones. A parallel exists today: a growing number of U.S. households rely
You can read the rest of this article at:: http://www.forbes.com/sites/netapp/2012/08/29/big-data-takes-center-stage-in-the-2012-presidential-election/
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