Most of the people depend on the data. From product development to demographic targeting to campaign measurement, data inform our actions and gauge our success. In last presidential primary pollsters asked, “Who will you vote for?” when what everyone actually wanted to know was “Who is going to win?” The answer to the first question on the Democratic side was “Obama,” but the answer to the second proved to be “Clinton.”
This is not to say that pollsters asked the wrong question. In fact, they asked precisely the right question. Yet statistical sampling necessarily involves weighting, assumptions, and projections, which are routinely ignored. It is quite obvious everyone gets shocked when the results of these vagaries become manifest.
Still, the failure to accurately predict the primary’s outcome does call for examination. Are the New Hampshire results a warning sign against placing too much stock in survey data, or are they just part of the roller coaster that is our political process? Analysts weighed in on what the primary and the campaign ahead say about data and marketing. One analyst says this is partially applicable to the kind of data we look at. When it comes to areas that respondents may have some emotional reaction, more caveats are involved. Of course, that’s highly true in the political arena. But it can also be true for areas like “How do you feel about online advertising? And “Would you accept commercial messages on your mobile device?”
Social networking will play a critical role in this election. Facebook co-sponsors the debates and teams up with ABC for an application that has had north of a million downloads. Every candidate has a social networking profile. It’s a click of a button to express your political viewpoint in a public social networking environment. It may be as small as giving a political affiliation in your profile or as big as supporting a specific candidate or posting a comment about a candidate on your profile or someone else’s. And each action you take on a social network is completely traceable. I’d suggest that political marketers should be paying more attention to what people are saying about candidates in social networks than what they say in pre-election polls. Especially if, as they say, is the youth market is a key to this election.