With Donald Trump officially accepting the Republican nomination, and Hillary Clinton poised to do the same this week, here’s a roundup of the biggest political data stories right now as we start the countdown to November.
The 2016 race has brought with it a host of new data tools for the amateur political wonk. On July 19th, digital strategy firm Engage released its Election Scorecard, a big data tool that combines candidate fundraising totals with aggregated user interaction data from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to get a sense of a candidate’s influence. And online survey platform SurveyMonkey launched an election tracking polling product which allows subscribers to get polling data collected from about two million voters, with respondents randomly selected from the more than 90 million responses the platform receives every month.
The Trump campaign has famously eschewed Big Data, though the RNC is pushing back against the candidate’s anti-data stance by doing their own analytical legwork, hiring a new Chief Technology Officer and spending over $100 million since 2012 on building up its data machine. The latest polls seem to suggest that Trump’s data deficit may contribute to victory for Hillary Clinton, though FiveThirtyEight.com reported last week that Trump appears to be gaining in some swing states.
But for all of the importance of predictive analytics, election season always comes with some unforeseen surprises. The Pacific Standard and The New York Daily News have two interesting write-ups on the dangers of relying on research that lacks context and scientific background, as well as the difficulty of using this particularly unpredictable election as a potential future data point.