How President Obama's Team Knew How You'd Vote

| by Michael Allen

The MIT Technology Review recently explained how President Obama's team used sophisticated analytics to track Obama voters from 2008 and encourage them to vote for Obama again in 2012.

The analytics campaign, led by 28-year-old chief analytics officer Dan Wagner, assigned voters individual scores based on if and how they would vote. Wagner’s team could accurately predict human behavior using a computer system called the 'Survey Manager.'

Somewhat like Google, Obama’s team used algorithms and databases to figure out what type of person a voter was and how that person would respond to certain types of advertising.

Obama’s campaign began 2012 confident that it knew the name of every one of the 69,456,897 Americans whose votes had put him in the White House. Obama’s analysts could look at the Democrats’ vote totals in each precinct and identify the people most likely to have backed him.

The MIT Technology Review states:

“But underneath all that were scores describing particular voters: a new political currency that predicted the behavior of individual humans. The campaign didn’t just know who you were; it knew exactly how it could turn you into the type of person it wanted you to be."

In contrast, the Romney campaign did not have the analytics of the Obama team and had to react to how the Obama campaign aired its ads. If Obama ran ads in a certain county or state, Romney would follow with its own ads, but the GOP challenger was always playing catch up.