Big data’s role in US politics

One of the big winners in the US presidential election was the role that big data played, especially the predictions made by Nate Silver of the New York Times who writes the fivethirtyeight blog. We put this topic to Zintro experts to inquire about the impact that big data analysis may have on the future of politics in theUS. Here is how they responded.

Randi Kestin, an expert in market research and evaluation, agrees that Nate Silver’s data analysis was huge in this election this cycle and, in particular, his use of logistical regression to predict the outcome of the election. “Data analysis has been crucial in the fields of market research and medical research. In the political field, it provides a temperature of where the electorate is, how important issues are to them, and how the candidates are performing. We have seen politicians on both sides of the political perspective use this information for cynical purposes; for example, telling people what they want to hear,” Kestin says. “Data has always been in the background of our democracy from the census that measures the population every 10 years to the actual elections through which we elect our president and government representatives. The processing of this data must be treated with care and precision so that the voice of the people can be heard.”

Rosaria Silipo, PhD, an expert in data mining and statistics, says that the role of big data in the last US presidential election has proven once more that data analytics on a large unbiased set of data can quite reliably predict the outcome of a challenge. “Now, if a presidential candidate wants to win an election, he or she must make use of analytics to understand – and therefore control – the important factors playing in the election competition. The same is true for any other challenge to play and win,” Silipo says. “Identifying the key factors of the challenge avoids dispersing energy and work and helps to make success-oriented decisions. Banks and governments are in desperate need of both. Companies or institutions, profit or non-profit, need to revise their decision strategies and take data analytics into account.”

Francisco José Gómez López, a software engineer working in data management applications, says that it’s not only politics where data analytics is being used, but for commercial purposes as well. “Banks and companies have used data analytics in advertising campaigns to satisfy the likes of potential consumers. Nowadays, society needs to be managed, ruled, or governed by politicians who can understand constituent worries and satisfy material and ideological necessities. In that field, big data analysis plays a very important role,” he says. “With good analysis of big data, politicians can modify their speeches and mood towards citizens. This could lead to another type of politics that takes into consideration the worries, feelings, ideas and, obviously, the economy of millions of people.”

By Maureen Aylward

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