The Quantified Election

Three days after Obama was elected in 2008, the NYTimes and many political experts declared the 2008 election to be “The Social Media Election”:

Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not be president. Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not have been the nominee,” said Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of The Huffington Post.

The Obama campaign was quick to give credit to Joe Trippi and his strategy in Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign, saying their social media agenda (led by Andrew Bleeker) was built upon Trippi and Dean’s established best practices.

Fast forward four years of rapid technological development and what has changed? It’s clear both campaigns are continuing the strong social media push, and even though only 41% of Americans now watch live TV, the tradition of the “Living Room Candidate” – heavy television advertising in swing states – lives on.

But we’ve evolved over the past 4 years. The exponential growth of objective data and analytics has changed the way that we analyze, predict and present information. And for this reason, we’d like to coin the 2012 election as The Quantified Election.

Need proof? Look no further than the nation’s (and Harvard Business Review’s)controversial obsessions with Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight blog on the NYtimes, or the questionable targeted online advertising where campaign media teams can “collect data on a voter’s interests and select the specific advertisement that corresponds to those interests”, or Intrade’s Presidential Election Prediction Markets, or even the basic but attention-grabbing real-time dial testing with swing voters offered during CNN’s coverage of the Presidential Debates.

It’s clear that objective analytical data allows us to predict the election with stronger accuracy than ever before. Here are a few interesting sources of Quantified Election prediction data:

Yet what isn’t clear is how both campaigns are using this new-found information. As we look forward to the election results tomorrow, we also look forward to the election aftermath, when we really learn about how each campaign harnessed the power of our nation’s first Quantified Election.