The Turn to Mass-Targeted Campaigning
The quest for data-driven campaigning in 2012—creating massive databases of voter information for more effective micro-targeting—found greater efficacy and new controversy in 2016. The Trump campaign capitalized on the power of digital advertising to reach the public to engage in unprecedented mass-targeted campaigning. His campaign spent substantially more on Facebook and other digital media paid ads than Clinton. Yet, the company that Trump worked with, Cambridge Analytica, closed up shop in 2018 under a cloud of controversy about corrupt officials and voter manipulation in several countries, as well as ill-begotten data of Facebook users that drove their micro-targeting practices. The Clinton campaign modeled itself on data-driven successes of the Obama campaign, yet the algorithms that drove their decision making were flawed, thereby leading her campaign to underperform in essential swing states. Similar to the Romney campaign’s Narwhal challenges on Election Day when the campaign effectively was flying blind on get-out-the-vote numbers, the Clinton plane was flying on bad coordinates, ultimately causing her campaign to crash in critical swing states.
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