Source: Mark Blevis, Digital Political Affairs
There are many similarities between data collection for marketing and data collection for politics; in fact, I often wonder which came first.
You would be surprised at not only the amount of data that is collected about us, but the use for that data. I often am left speechless at the sheer amount of ways that my information is out there – as some of my classmates can attest to, I find myself surprised each day when I learn of new ways that information is used against me.
There is a universal truth in marketing: if you can’t measure it, it’s not marketing.
This is pretty similar to the universal truth in politics – it all comes down to the votes.
There are 2 ways that data collection is used in politics:
- Voter identification & confirmation
- Addressing voter issues & gaining new voters
For those of you that don’t know, there are many aspects to a political campaign, as well as other actions that happen outside of election period. Arguably the most important aspect of a campaign is identifying your vote: volunteers go around to all confirmed voters within the specific district and ask voters which way they intend to vote. This is the most important information that a candidate and their campaign manager can have – you need to know who you are reaching, what support you already have and where you can make up the difference.
Throughout the year, there are various mail outs that come from your MP that are meant to inform you about what is being done in your name in Ottawa. On each mail out, there is the option to send your opinion to the political party/politician listed on the document; they take and store that data. Any time you call your elected official to complain? They store that data. Anytime you go on to any sort of political website or get involved with a cause associated with a political party? They store that data too. And then, when all is said and done, they resort to the information that is inputted by their volunteers into the central data system (each political party has a different system – and I have to give credit, the Conservatives are absolutely INCREDIBLE at this!) They then use this data to draft party platforms and positions to gain more support (support translating into money and votes).
I’ve gathered a couple of videos to show you just how relevant data collection is, not only to politics but overall.
Check out this video to see just how insidious data collection in politics is, as well as universal
Check out this video to see how statistics & political campaigns work together – USC Lecture (so you know that it is really legit!)
Here is an interesting article from Canadian Business magazine that highlights the connection to business, data & politics. It’s a somewhat lengthy article, however valuable in recognizing how important metrics are in the political game.
As always, I’ll leave you with a challenge: what data have you put out in the world? Do you complete surveys? Are you engaged in the political process? Is there a cause you feel passionately for? And when you’ve exhausted those options, there’s always the magazines you subscribe to, the loyalty programs you’re involved in (here’s looking at you, Air Miles!) and the contests you enter. Leave a comment with your thoughts on the article & videos, as well as anything else that may pop into your mind. (Although, that in itself will be you leaving more data!)