Myth-Busters: Game Changers and Big Data In Presidential Campaigns

Lynn Vavreck
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Co-founder, Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project

While it is true that data, science, and analytics are making their way into American presidential campaigns on both sides of the aisle, it is not true that campaigns, to quote CNN, "know you better than you know yourself" or that every moment of the campaign is a potential game changer. Using a unique 45-wave 1,000 person rolling panel design, John Sides (George Washington University) and I tracked Americans' opinions about the candidates and the campaign over the course of the election year and Princeton University Press published our chapters as e-books in real time. The panel nature of the data result in 135,000 interviews, to which we adjoin data on 1.2 million televised advertisements and daily news content and tone from 11,000 news outlets. These data give us tremendous power to illustrate precisely how and why voters' opinion were changed by the campaigns and whether the election outcome shifted in response.

Back to Mathematics of Politics