Tactical Advantage

Tactical Advantage

“Tactics are the determination of the line of conduct of the proletariat in the comparatively short period of the flow or ebb of the movement, of the rise or decline of the revolution, …”

“Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas.” -Joseph Stalin

The political contests for 2014 and beyond will be won by tactics. The American electorate has reached a balance between the progressive and conservative polarities. This simple reality implies that winning the race will be accomplished by the mobilization of one’s base to create a marginal victory.

The Obama political machine grasped the tactics by which this might be accomplished in the 2012 campaign, and the Romney camp realized too late how. From Politico:

“Romney national political director Rich Beeson marveled at the customization of the Obama campaign. They tailored advertisements in key media markets to key constituencies, sometimes airing nine different spots on one day.”

“We were going after it with a meat cleaver, and they were going after it with a scalpel,” he said. (Hohmann, 2012)

The methods they used to accomplish this were laid bare by some of the technologists who were hired to gain advantage. Data analytics played a central role, as explained by those directly engaged.

“Part of the reason for the Obama victory was the campaign’s ability to mobilize the vote, and it used a lot of data to do that,” says Alex Black, who leads CSC’s Enterprise Intelligence Practice. The Obama campaign deployed a team of technologists who built a sophisticated data platform code-named Narwhal that proved highly effective for raising money and tracking voters…

“The Obama campaign proved the power of big data,” says Gary Jackson, CSC’s director of Business Analytics. One lesson learned from the election is that enterprises can employ a concept called the “psychology of analytics” to prompt action from a customer. Jackson notes that many companies spend a lot of time and money on big data projects only to end up finding out the same insights they already knew. He calls it “Your Mom’s Mom Is a Woman” analytics. The key for businesses, he says, is using data analytics to target the right people. (CSC , 2013)

This series of articles will discuss the methods of data analytics that should become as core a skill as game theory for the serious political operative. Analytics depends on statistical methods for decision framing. But the important strategies are driven not by math but by human psychology. These strategies will be made clear to help in understanding the value of each tactic developed.

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Works Cited

CSC . (2013, August 8). Big Data Meets Presidential Politics. Retrieved from CSC.com:

Hohmann, J. (2012, December 12). Obama, Romney campaign officials dissect 2012 election at Dole Institute. Retrieved from Politico: http://www.politico.com/story/2012/12/campaign-officials-dissect-election-cycle-84796.html

James Strawn About James Strawn

James is an IT consultant and solutions architect with decades of experience working on various major projects with Fortune 500 companies. He is also an author and editor for DecidingTheVote.com, a blog forum for politically active citizens and professionals.

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