Polls

SXSW Panel: Big Data Won't Choose the Next U.S. President

It's the ideas, stupid.

|

SXSW
Stephanie Slade

Four veteran digital campaign operatives were on hand at South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) this morning to discuss why "Big Data Will Choose the Next U.S. President." But the actual takeaway of the panel was just the opposite: For all the attention that goes to things like microtargeting and digital operations, it's far more important to be running a candidate people like on a message people find compelling.

"Data provides the ability to put the most relevant message in front of someone," said J.C. Medici, director of politics and advocacy at the marketing firm Rocket Fuel. "If you have campaigns that have a strong message, data can help leverage and be the amplification tool…But it's not the data itself, it's data being used to deliver the message."

"At the end of the day," agreed Keegan Goudiss of Revolution Messaging and the Bernie Sanders campaign, "what you're saying in the race is the most important part."

This might seem to run against the modern wisdom. After all, the media drained an ocean of ink covering President Obama's digital-first campaign in 2008. "How Obama's data crunchers helped him win," read a typical headline on the subject, that one from CNN. "Exclusive: How Democrats Won The Data War In 2008," read another, from The Atlantic. And it's true that the presidential hopeful (and his army of staffers and campaign volunteers) brought data into the political realm at a level of sophistication the world had never before seen.

But while using data well can be the difference between winning and losing in a relatively close race—and make no mistake about it, in a country that's roughly evenly divided along loose party lines, national races are decided on the margins—not even the best data operation can overcome the weakness of a candidate whose personality and ideas just don't resonate with voters.

One need only look to the now-defunct Jeb Bush campaign to see that's true. Bush's team had everything going for it: resources, experience, name recognition. It's a safe bet his staff had put together a plan to deploy data to reach and turn out voters that would have at least rivaled the Obama for America operation that came before.

But Jeb was the wrong man for the wrong time. The day Donald Trump entered the race, though none of us realized it then, was the day the Bush campaign's long, slow death began. In the second week of August, he was getting 10 percent according to the RealClearPolitics primary polling average; his vote share would never be that high again. At this moment of national frustration, soft-spoken competence was taken as weakness, and no amount of door knocking or TV ads or Facebook memes or quirky campaign-trail Snapchat vids was going to change that.

As Medici put it at the panel this morning: "It doesn't matter how much data you have [if you don't] have the right candidate."

"I'll share the magic formula for success," Goudiss said when asked how the Sanders camp pulled off its shocking win in Michigan last week. "And that is that we have an authentic candidate who's speaking about issues he cares greatly about."

NEXT: Court Allows California's High-Speed Rail to Continue

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. As Medici put it at the panel this morning: “It doesn’t matter how much data you have [if you don’t] have the right candidate.”

    Easy for him to say. He had da Vinci propping his house up.

    1. After I been earnin $8768 this-past/five weeks and-a little over, $10k lass-month. it’s realy my favourite work I have ever had. I actually started 7-months ago and pretty much straight away was earning at least $87… p/h. I follow
      this website,
      =============== http://www.PathCash30.com

  2. “I’ll share the magic formula for success,” Goudiss said when asked how the Sanders camp pulled off its shocking win in Michigan last week. “And that is that…

    …there are millions of innumerate people who want to follow a strong Fuehrer, who will be like a benevolent grandad. He’ll fix things!

    1. Pretty sure the words “FREE SHIT!” figured heavily in the contest. They get more following than “I’m not really a liar”.

    2. So the magic formula is to have an authentic candidate who’s speaking about issues he cares greatly about, eh? President Ron Paul says that’s a load of crap.

      1. LIE BIGGER!! LIE LOUDER!!! SHIT ON THE OTHER ONES BEFORE THEY SHIT ON YOU!!!

        – Gilmore’s “Laws of politics”, Chapter 1

      2. The missing piece in the equation is that while you care greatly about the issue, you have to be completely ignorant of its mechanics. Bernie has that in spades, and Ron P did not. Nothing dampens the perception of the sincerely passionate, like the wisdom imparted by realism.

  3. So there’s 8 months of election nonsense left. I think maybe I hope Leader Trump or Chairman Sanders suspends all future elections. Because…dude.

    1. Nah, Hillary will win.

      Then 2020 will also be “the most important election of our lifetimes.”

      1. “Hillary will win”

        So hopes the GOP bosses. They sure as hell would rather have her than Trump or Cruz.

        1. Well, it ensures there is even more local Republicans and the House and Senate are Republican too.

  4. No mention of Trump? Just allusions.

    we have an authentic candidate who’s speaking about issues he cares greatly about.

    I’m voting for the inauthentic candidate that hardly anyone (33% or there abouts). likes.

  5. I have to ask, how is SXSW pronounced? I always see it written as SXSW, but ‘SXSW’ when spoken is 6 syllables whereas ‘South By Southwest’ is only 4 so surely people don’t pronounce it “Ess Ecks Ess Double You” do they?

    1. Sexy Single Women

    2. Don’t confuse speech with printing. South by Southwest may be faster to say, but SXSW saves newspapers thousands of dollars in ink (4 letters vs. 16 letters). Plus acronyms always make the writer sound like they are on the inside of whatever phenomenon they are talking about.

    3. “South-By”.

    4. I adopted David Brudnoy’s practice of saying “dub, dub, dub” for “www”. I’d tried “wooh, wooh, wooh” (like “wood, wood, wood” without the “d”s, or “woof, woof, woof” without the “f”s), but nobody understood.

      Funny are the football coaches writing “Mike” & “Will” instead of “MLB” & “WLB”, respectively. In speaking you save syllables vs. either the initialisms or the full expressions, but in writing the initialisms are shorter & more easily understood. Similarly “SXSW” is meant for writing, not speaking.

    5. South By South West.

  6. In today’s three state elections in Germany, it was the leftist parties that suffered the biggest losses as the Alternativ f?r Deutschland gained running on an anti-migration platform. And yet everybody calls the AfD “far-right”.

    Discuss.

    1. http://www.trunews.com/swedish…..out-alone/

      Just the price we have to pay for progress I suppose.

      Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

  7. Car bomb kills 30 in Turkey.

    Fucking Turkish government shuts down social media.

    1. Because bad news is bad news?

  8. “It doesn’t matter how much data money you have [if you don’t] have the right candidate.”

    But try telling your average concerned citizen that.

  9. The Jeb campaign had name recognition going for it?

    Name recognition was the biggest problem that Jeb had to overcome and that was never going to happen.

    1. Yes.

      The tag Jeb! was devised to eliminate the need for Bush.

      1. That really greased the skids for him.

        Party of stupid is stupid.

        Fuck ’em. We oughta go fishing sometime.

      2. Last one I remember like that was “Lamar!”.

    2. I was going to say the same thing. A majority of Americans, and a good chunk of Republicans, still view the Bush administration as a disaster. “Obama is bad” does not imply “Bush was good”.

  10. not even the best data operation can overcome the weakness of a candidate whose personality and ideas just don’t resonate with voters.

    But nobody wants to rely on having a candidate with an appealing personality and ideas unless all other options have failed.

  11. FIRE!

    Donald Trump, in events that are often televised, is shouting “Fire!” in crowded theaters. How far will this go? Will someone be fatally beaten or shot? Will a militia of Trump supporters emerge, similar to the Minutemen, and what would that mean? What would happen if the violence consistently escalates?

    Similar to the Minutemen? WTF?

    1. “Doug Heye is a former communications director for the Republican National Committee and deputy chief of staff to then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.”

      Shocked, I am.

      From the last info I have I am guessing they are going to go for a brokered convention and shove their dream candidate down everyone’s throat: Jeb Bush.

  12. Are Trumpite comments getting deleted? If so, good.

    1. Trump!

      The thing I like most about Trump is his insincerity.

      For the LULZ

    2. So you think this place needs moderators?

      1. Yes. Me, for instance. Vote me. I promise to always be the greater of two evils.

        1. “Vote me. I promise to always be the greater of two evils.”

          I’m sold.

          Warty for president.

          I think I want that on a bumper sticker. Cerealy.

    3. “Are Trumpite comments getting deleted? If so, good.”

      You mean like the one you just made?

      1. No, I got threads confused. No posts are disappearing. Alas.

  13. Jeb! would have done better if he had stood outside of polling places handing out ten dollar bills.

    1. And saved a lot of money as well.

  14. Butts were hurt

    All the while, hate speech in general may be on the rise in America. According to the civil rights advocacy group, Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups increased from 784 in 2014 to 892 in 2015. The SPLC has been criticized for targeting conservative groups, though its definition for “hate” group is any organization that fosters discrimination based on attributes such as race, sexual orientation, and religion, including black separatist groups.

    Like many liberal pundits, SPLC officials attribute the rising tide of hate speech in America at least in part to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who they say has built his campaign on anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition in a December speech, however, the business magnate was reported to draw smirks and laughter for jokes that pointed to Jewish stereotypes.

    Stupid kids making dumb jokes are Trump’s fault.

    1. According to the civil rights advocacy group, Southern Poverty Law Center,

      Assumes facts not in evidence.

  15. OT: I told this story in a thread that was kinda dead so I am reposting for amusement.

    I once went camping in Red Dirt NF with a girlfriend. The last night we were there I fell asleep in the tent with my arm extended under my pillow and the back of my hand was against the tent wall. I woke up in the night to the sound of snuffling and could feel some animal snout through the fabric of the tent on the back of my hand. I tried to remember if we had left any food out (I had made pork chops w/ french onion soup mix in a cast iron dutch oven over the fire) but was too sleepy to investigate. I figured the critter sniffing my hand was a red wolf. I simply, without much force, smacked the critter’s nose and loudly said “Fuck off!”. I heard it scamper off.

    The next morning I checked for tracks to confirm my suspicions of it being some sort of canine.

    There were bear tracks larger than I could cover with my hand all over the camp and the left over pork chops were gone, the dutch oven licked clean as a whistle.

    Girlfriend was terrified to the point of being irrational. She got in the truck and would not get out. I was a bit unsettled myself. We packed up and went home.

    That was in response to Gilmore’s comment.

    “Or having them (wild animals) rip into your food supply at camp and shit all over everything.” – As to why cute counts for nothing.

  16. Nobody goes to SXSW any more, it’s too crowded.

  17. Do you know how silly that is gonna sound? I mean like seriously.

    http://www.Anon-Net.tk

  18. Wow man, I never even thought about it like that before. Wow.

    http://www.Anon-Net.tk

  19. You know who else leveraged big data?

  20. before I saw the bank draft which had said $9426 , I didnt believe that…my… brother woz like actualy earning money part-time at there labtop. . there uncles cousin has done this 4 less than fifteen months and by now repaid the dept on there place and got a great new Mini Cooper . read the full info here …

    Clik This Link inYour Browser??
    ? ? ? ? http://www.CashJoin60.com

  21. “though none of us realized it then, was the day the Bush campaign’s long, slow death began. In the second week of August, he was getting 10 percent according to the RealClearPolitics primary polling average; his vote share would never be that high again. At this moment of national frustration, soft-spoken competence was taken as weakness”

    He was doa. And yes, many of us saw that years ago.

    And I would not go so far as to call him competent. Just barely good enough for Florida.

  22. You’re getting ?197 worth of bonuses for just a fraction of that price. Everything to get you started in learning a proven system for accelerating your exam success. G So if that’s what you want to do, this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.Find |Here…

    —- w?w?w.w?o?r?k?p?r?o?s?p?e?c?t?s?.c?o?m

  23. RE: SXSW Panel: Big Data Won’t Choose the Next U.S. President

    Big data won’t choose the next president?
    Why not?
    Why should all the voters have all the fun?

  24. Start making more money weekly. This is a valuable part time work for everyone. The best part work from comfort of your house and get paid from $100-$2k each week.Start today and have your first cash at the end of this week. For more details Check this link??

    Clik This Link inYour Browser??
    ? ? ? ? http://www.CashJoin60.com

  25. I’ve made $76,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student.I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money.It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it.

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ??????? http://www.selfcash10.com

  26. I’ve made $76,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student.I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money.It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it.

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ??????? http://www.selfcash10.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.