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November 05, 2012


Why Obama's Ground Game is Better

Sasha Issenberg, author of the must-read book, The Victory Lab, explains:

"For decades, political targeters had to use geographic or demographic heuristics (classifying precincts based their past vote performance or Census tracts based on their complexion) to sort voters into those categories en masse. With the individual-level voter data and statistical analysis available to today's campaigns, they can now sort voters one by one... The goal was to collect intelligence about potential voters' 2012 intentions and distill that down to a series of individual-level predictions..."

"The Obama campaign's algorithms ran the numbers and predicted the likelihood that every voter in the country would cast a ballot, assigning each a turnout score. Obama's analysts knew how good their support score was because they polled a new group of voters to validate it: 87 percent of the time it would accurately predict an individual's preference. But it would be impossible to confirm their algorithm's turnout predictions until after the election. But they did their best to assess its accuracy, by calling voters and asking them how likely they are to vote. Analysts know that people are poor predictors of their future behavior, but they got answers that confirmed that their rankings were at least sensible."

The Economist has a good overview of each campaign's ground game.












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