This election’s winners include not only data nerds like Nate Silver, but also the Obama campaign’s numbers-crunchers. Wasn’t data analysis supposed to be Romney’s strength at Bain and the Olympics?
The Obama staff – parodied as a bunch of soft-headed, socialist community organizers – were precise and efficient in their targeting and resource allocation. Romney, in contrast, spent precious time the last weekend chasing a chimera in Pennsylvania. Remarkably, Romney’s campaign, Republican pollsters and the Fox spin machine all were misled by their own data.
This part of a campaign, unlike ads and speeches, goes unnoticed. But attention must be paid. Because the Obama campaign has revolutionized politics.
Two small examples:
First, a friend who lives in Wilson County and volunteered for Obama said the campaign gave her precise instructions: go to Trailer Park X, knock on the door at Trailer Y and urge Voter Z to go vote. My friend said she was going to places she didn’t know existed – and finding voters the Obama campaign had identified.
Second, on Election Night, Obama volunteers in North Carolina got texts from the campaign: “Would you make a call to Betsy in Wisconsin at this number and urge her to go vote.”
This combination of high-tech and high personal touch is powerful. It’s the most important lesson of this election.