Obama Campaign Seeks a Few Good Data Scientists

Susan Hall
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Big Data Analytics

The first steps toward achieving a lasting competitive edge with big data analytics.

President Obama's re-election campaign is putting together a Big Data team to better analyze social media activity, GigaOM reports. The RSVP form for a Tuesday event on the Stanford campus said the campaign is looking for analytics engineers and scientists to work in its Chicago office on text analytics, social network/media analysis, Web personalization, computational advertising, and online experiments and testing.


Though Obama deftly used social media in his 2009 campaign, he's since added more than 10 million followers on Twitter and more than 23 million people "like" his Facebook profile. By contrast, Mitt Romney has about 93,000 Twitter followers and Rick Perry, who's also quite data-savvy, has about 88,000.


In a <strong>post last May on the rise of data jobs</strong>, I shared this definition of the data scientist from Database Trends and Applications:

At its simplest level the data scientist merges the disciplines of data processing-such as programming and database management-with data analysis techniques that previously were the province of business analysts and statisticians. The value of data can only be unlocked by someone who has the ability not just to retrieve and process the data, but also to derive meaning and significance from it. And this analysis is becoming increasingly mission-critical as enterprises strive to improve their competitiveness by leveraging their unique information assets.

The GigaOM article credits the George W. Bush campaign, spearheaded by Karl Rove, with identifying swing voters and more effectively campaigning to those it actually could swing, namely non-voting Republicans.


According to the article:

Voters earning $200,000 a year and driving large SUVs or luxury cars, for example, might not be as receptive to campaign literature about gas prices as would cash-strapped voters driving 15-year-old cars. It's all about targeting the right groups with the right messages, which requires data experts.


Going forward, I expect all campaigns will have to place greater significance on social media, because it offers the potential to do unprecedented things around personalization and message-targeting.

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