Context Florida: 3 Myths of The Florida Special Election (by SIMs own, Fred Piccolo)
March 13, 2014
I hate reading lists that begin with long winded explanations of what’s to come. So with that in mind, let’s get down to brass tacks and examine three of the biggest myths surrounding the special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.
Big Data is King
To be sure, knowing who your voters are, their beliefs and motivations, their habits, and a myriad of other data points is essential to a modern campaign. The recent launch of the RNC startup, Para Bellum Labs, is a welcome development so long as it remains focused on data and not policy or personalities. But to hail the arrival of GOP “Big Data” as an electoral savior or “game changer” misses the actual utility of data.
Let me explain.
In 2012, Barack Obama operated the single biggest data mining and exploitation regime this nation, politically, ever witnessed. Utilizing this massive data mining effort and deep statistical analysis, he then went on to win Florida…by less than 1% (.9%) and won the 13th Congressional District by 1%.Meanwhile, in 2012, Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, presumably without access to the vaunted Obama “big data” machine, won Florida with 286,000 more votes than Barack Obama (granted, against a weaker candidate) and won the 13th Congressional District by 18%.
Ironically enough in 2010, a GOP “wave” year, Alex Sink also won the 13th Congressional District, by 3%.
Enter Bill Young, in 2012, without access to such data – beyond polling, WebElect, etc. In the District carried by President Obama by 1%, Bill Nelson by 18%, and Alex Sink by 3%, Young won re-election by 16%.
The lesson here? Big data won’t replace likeable candidates, fundraising, and retail politics. It won’t save bad candidates (ie Alex Sink) or carry decent ones across the finish line. What it will do is provide good candidates with demographics and targets to expand their margins and/or enlarge the overall vote pie (ie David Jolly).
Big data is a Duke or an Earl. Compelling, charismatic, and disciplined candidates will always be King.
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