Trying to predict the outcome of an election is not new. Doing so in real-time, based upon current conversations and search information from qualitative data vs. traditional polling, especially months and weeks before the election is. The question is, does it risk the ability to sway the population as everyone chases popular opinion? The larger the crowd, the more people show up for it. Sadly, it’s a social norm to follow the herd – think about it. Great for brands, not good for elections.

In this weekends NYTimes article, Google’s Crystal Ball, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz analyzes Google search data to see what folks are searching for by state, as it relates to each candidate. Comparing this to numbers from the last election, especially with a focus on the swing states, may show the accuracy of how search data could predict which way people are leaning based upon things such as sentiment analysis. Simply fascinating.

The Daily introduced a real-time, agree/disagree ‘dial’ to poll Democrats and Republican’s in real time, and it was fantastic to participate in and to watch in last week’s debate. If you did not try it in the last debate and you own an iPad, Android or Kindle Tablet, download The Daily and try it tonight. I found it absolutely fascinating to watch people’s reactions to the arguments in real-time. I was especially fascinated by the fact that the Republican audience was completely unified in their position, while the Democrats were often not as unified around the same issue – a weakness for Obama and the Democratic party, but solid proof that The Democrats are not as polarized, easier to work with and more open to listen to the issues. It was even more scary to watch how folks are swayed by popular opinion in real-time vs. making their own decisions based upon the facts. We know and accept that this is how it works, but usually after much debate, research and discussion followed up by the usual sensationalized coverage by the media – not instantaneously by following your fellow man. An eye opener for sure.

While many of us may view these tools as toys to keep us entertained before, during and after a debate, unlike the debate itself, this may be how elections are won and lost in the future.


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