January 22, 2020

453 words 3 mins read

If you thought politics was dirty, you should see the analytics behind it.

If you thought politics was dirty, you should see the analytics behind it.

Forget about the fake news; data and analytics in politics is what drives elections. John Thuma shares ethical dilemmas he faced while proposing analytical solutions to the RNC and DNC. Not only did he help causes he disagreed with, but he also armed politicians with real-time data to manipulate voters.

Talk Title If you thought politics was dirty, you should see the analytics behind it.
Speakers John Thuma (Arcadia Data)
Conference Strata Data Conference
Conf Tag Make Data Work
Location New York, New York
Date September 11-13, 2018
URL Talk Page
Slides Talk Slides

As a seasoned data analyst with deep political campaign experience, John Thuma loves to follow the data around elections. With midterm elections just around the corner, the ability to crunch voter data has never been more important. It’s big money. The final price tag for the 2016 election is in: $6.5 billion for the presidential and congressional elections combined, according to campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets.org. There is also more data than ever, as social media plays an increasingly critical role in voter and donator influence. The use cases are endless. The names may be different, but the goals are the same: People who run for office are nothing more than products that expire on election day. Much like how a recommendation engine influences you to purchase a product, election campaigns persuade you to vote and to donate. And every member of the voting public is like an oil well with tons of sensor data being emitted and analyzed in real time. Through the use of real-time streaming technologies like Kafka and modern BI platforms, it’s easy to leverage high-speed data to change a candidate’s position—even if they don’t agree with it—if only to get more votes. Helping them do this as an analytics professional can make you feel dirty. This is not just a data velocity opportunity; it’s also a data scale and complexity matter. Being able to capture, analyze, and deliver information requires modern data infrastructure as well as a different kind of business intelligence. Elections and campaigns cannot wait for a star schema or a semantic layer to be completed. They need tools that enable them to act fast, on both a national and the street level. They need to be able to rapidly merge disparate data in order to capitalize on your emotional vulnerabilities. There are many similarities between the business world and political campaigns: Join John to learn how campaigns use analytics to achieve their mission and explore the technologies they use to address their big data challenges. Along the way, John shares the moral and ethical challenges he faced (soap, lots of soap) and the lessons he learned from politics (without the slime).

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