Obama is a charismatic man and was a promising candidate, but the key to his successful campaign was possibly the application of microtargeting, achieved through the use of big data. ¿How did they it? Although the election is anonymous, results by voting center are public. That information can be enriched with data from the locality, not only sociodemographic facts, but also things like occupation, memberships, political and charitable contribution history, political volunteer history, permits and licenses, magazine subscriptions, etc.
The Obama team analyzed dozens of terabytes of data with a combination of computational programs to gain a competitive edge. Modeling was used to understand the electorate at the individual voter level. Finally, evaluating the results of experiments helped the campaign learn how its actions actually influenced people.
¿Conclusions? Lots. For example, profiles on Facebook of women between 40 and 49 years of the West Coast found that they wanted the most was to enjoy a dinner in Hollywood with George Clooney. Studies showed that this group was crucial for the construction of votes and defining the result. So, Clooney was invited to campaign.
Lot of small information was considered relevant. For example, the e-mails were impacting more in the segment 40-49 men than in any other segment. Women aged 45 to 60 were viralizing more e-mails and Facebook posts. The retired men were more permeable when they were targeted with an economic discourse, but in retired women was better to talk about foreign policy. Each audience had the most effective message, channel and interlocutor.
And it worked.