While everyone knows the outcome of what happened the night of the 2012 presidential election, not as many know about the big players behind the scenes, or in Eric Schmidt’s case, in the boiler room.
Bloomberg reveals the journey executive chairman for Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), Eric Schmidt, took to get to the top of President Barack Obama’s campaigning strategy team and where he plans to go next.
As one of the main masterminds behind the analytics of the Democrats’ campaigning strategy, Schmidt is responsible for a great deal of Obama’s reelection success. He, along with a data analytics team led by 30-year-old Dan Wagner that did its work “tucked away beneath a disco ball in a darkened corner of the office” came up with a strategy that employed commercial and political databases to identify who would be likely to support Obama, and then targeted those individuals through personalized contact.
This approach to analytics, termed “Big Data” and distinct from the typical top-down technique, allowed Obama to capture the greatest number of supporters without losing them through advertisements and strategies that they could disagree with.
Wagner’s analytic genius was initially discovered in 2007 when he developed a special calculator for caucuses that was designed to discern “how many voters a candidate would need to take from a rival to gain an additional delegate.” After the 2008 elections, he went to work for the Democratic National Committee and was eventually promoted to chief analytics officer for Obama’s 2012 campaign. The mathematical models he and his team built for swing states proved accurate, a significant advantage for Obama when it looked like the election was down only to the swing states.
Schmidt and Wagner’s business collaboration may have been unlikely (the Cave threw a five-minute party every day at 4:30 p.m. that entailed dancing to a mash-up of Psy’s Gangnam style and a campaign robocall), but the team successfully worked together to develop its election winning campaigning strategy.
Now that the election is over, Schmidt is ready to collaborate again and invest in the brains behind the Big Data operation. He is investing millions in the consulting firm, Civis Analytics, which will focus much of its energy on companies and use its sophisticated analytic tools to make logistics, scheduling, manufacturing, and marketing decisions. Campaign veterans claim made Obama’s campaign 15 percent more efficient.
Though Civis’ main focus is on companies, one of them being The College Board, it still plans to work for political candidates next year, but only Democrats.
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