David Plouffe: The Obama Campaign Used Grassroots Data and Computer Modeling to Allocate Resources in Real Time
Cross-posted on techPresident
A week or two ago, I happened to catch the C-Span broadcast of a fascinating discussion at Harvard’s Kennedy School — PBS’s Gwen Ifill moderated a panel including David Axelrod and David Plouffe from the Obama campaign and Richard Davis and Bill McInturff from McCain’s operation. The entire discussion is brain-food for any political junkie, but one segment particularly jumped out at me: David Plouffe gave an extended description of how the Obama campaign used volunteer-produced data to create computer-generated models of states — down to segments of a media market — to determine how the campaign was doing at any given moment.
And it wasn’t an idle mental exercise, since they used these simulations to make essentially overnight changes in how and where to concentrate resources, including candidate and surrogate visits. On the video, the critical bit starts right around minute 57, in answer to a question from a Kennedy School grad student about how modern campaigns use data; a transcript is below.