Tech Opportunities Missed in the US Presidential Campaigns

Posted in Digital Data, Tech news  by Carol
February 15th, 2016

tech electionBarack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns both became testaments to the way the American political arena has changed over the past decade or so; the internet age and the rise of social media have revised the focus of the public eye, and Obama is credited with being the first to figure out exactly how to ride that change instead of being left behind by it.

However, this election year it seems that many to most candidates have failed to learn the lesson of Obama’s success; political races are won through the effective use of technology.

What exactly does effective use of technology look like in political contexts? It has to do with a mix of analytics and social networking, and it definitely saved Obama’s reelection from his negative approval ratings. Unfortunately for Hillary Clinton, she never figured out exactly how he did this.

But how do analytics and social media actually allow for a candidate to win? Well, according to the CIO in Obama’s election and re-election campaigns, Hillary Clinton and John McCain didn’t even know what analytics were. Mitt Romney understood better that kind of response he was looking for, but his plan was so poorly executed that his background successes in business became somewhat of a surprise.

Some argue that Obama’s social media presence and success owe in large part to the fact that Google got behind him… and now basically owns him. Consider this: Google’s billionaire executives are the only private citizens in the country who enjoy the benefit of having their personal/executive corporate jet fleet land, take-off, hanger and refuel at the Federal Government facility, Moffett Federal Airfield. The airfield is only a few miles from Google’s Mountain View headquarters. The Google executives have crafted a very generous 60-year lease, and are filling up on government subsidized jet fuel. Just a fun fact.

googleAnother weird thing that happened: Google was publicly credited with helping Obama’s re-election campaign, and just two weeks after Obama won the Presidential election, the U.S. Department of Justice appointed the former Google anti-trust counsel employee Renata Hesse to be Acting Chief of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, which allowed her to leapfrog over four other DOJ Antitrust Division Deputies with more seniority at the time. This then allowed for Google to skirt the most serious antitrust allegations against it that the government was previously investigating.

So Obama and Google clearly carved out a mutually beneficial little agreement there. Where did, say, Carly Fiorina go wrong? Well, not that she had to know how to make her own computer, but she never understood the technology of her own tech company, HP, plus, she wasn’t loyal to her people, who in turn weren’t loyal to her. She regularly used layoffs as a financial management tool, which of course led everyone to hate her.

This and the fact that she squandered her potential appeal to women by choosing Planned Parenthood selling fetus body parts as an issue (a choice that would have been easily proven ill-advised by proper analytics) led Fiorina to fail.

In the end, Analytics allow us to use a data-rich tool that makes it possible to force people (and ourselves) to stop favoring information that already validates our opinions and instead look at the facts of an issue.

Leave a Reply