Obama campaign's investment in data crunching paid off
CHICAGO — Early on election day, in two tight, tucked-away rooms at Obama headquarters known as the Cave and the Alley, the campaign's data-crunching team awaited the nation's first results, from Dixville Notch, a New Hampshire hamlet that traditionally votes at midnight.
Dixville Notch split 5-5. It did not seem an auspicious outcome for the president.
But for the math geeks and data wizards who spent more than a year devising sophisticated models to predict which voters would back the president, Dixville Notch was a victory. Their model had gotten it right, predicting that about 50% of the village's voters were likely to support President Obama
The Obama campaign has made the transition over two elections. In this one, it employed analytics in a far more systematic and thorough way, officials said. But the work was a closely guarded secret. Officials denied requests for interviews with the analytics experts, and when journalists visited Obama headquarters, the team was ordered to shut the Cave door.
At its most basic, Messina, Wagner and others explained, the goal was to rank individual voters in the swing states based on their likelihood of voting for the president or of being persuaded to vote for him, to volunteer for his campaign and to vote early. The Obama campaign developed separate models for each. (cont)