October 06, 2016

How well does Hillary Clinton know you? Though you’ve probably never met, her campaign might have a wealth of info about where you live, how you might vote, and what you buy. Sasha Issenberg, a journalist and author of The Victory Lab: The Science of Winning Campaigns, talks with us about the role data is playing in this year’s presidential election. 

Three Takeaways 

  • The 2016 election is a contest between the new and the old school. Issenberg says that Hillary Clinton is running a very modern campaign, using data from a variety of sources to deliver tailored messages to specific voters. Trump, on the other hand, is relying on spreading his message widely – and loudly – to as many people as possible.
  •  Are you an undecided voter or a Democrat who might not make it to the polls on November 8? If so, you’re who the Clinton campaign is looking for. If you’re the former, they’re hoping to change your mind. If you’re the latter, they want to nudge you out the door on election day. 
  • Clinton’s strategy could mean that early polls are deceiving. “It is reasonable to suspect that the structural advantage that Clinton has will not reveal itself fully until we get to the point where the only challenge left is to turn out people who might not be that crazy about her,” says Issenberg. “The people who are showing up as Trump supporters in polls will be less likely to vote because they’re not getting that nudge from the campaign when the time comes to fill out the ballot.” 

More Reading 

  • Sasha Issenberg writes about the Clinton’s efforts to sway millennial voters in Bloomberg Politics
  • Scientific American examines the Clinton campaign’s relationship with big data. 
  • Better late than never? Trump’s team appears to be finally taking advantage of data analytics - at least for TV ad buys.

NPR, Sacha Issenberg, Electi, innovation hub, WGBH, Kara Miller

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