Politicians uncovering big benefits in ‘big data’

Parties use results to pinpoint constituents on specific issues

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Data analytics can help a political group understand why people cross party lines to vote for a particular candidate — an ability that could be crucial for minority parties, like Maryland Republicans. Democrats who in recent years signed petitions on hot-button political questions like gay marriage and immigration could be targeted and encouraged to vote for Republican candidates aligned with their views on specific issues.

There’s even a mobile app that people can reference before approaching a house and offering political literature. A solicitor might know before knocking on the door not only the resident’s political affiliation but also details about the issues he or she holds dear.

On a national level, “parties in most states are understanding that big data is critical nowadays,” said William Adams, president and CEO of RocketBase Solutions, a Virginia data-management company. New software is simplifying data analysis for non-technical people who would have found it difficult without the technology.

Even without special software, parties can learn valuable information about their constituents from sites like Facebook. State residents who “like” the state Democratic or Republican party pages and also “like” a pro-choice or pro-gun page provide data about how many party members within a certain state value a certain issue.

The software is available to consolidate more in-depth data from LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more, and from there, to record and organize knowledge useful for enticing people to the ballot box.

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