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Big data is changing everything about our lives.
There is stuff you notice, like how looking at one Amazon product once will lead you to be bombarded with adverts for similar products on every site you visit. And there are slightly creepier things you will never see, like a complex Target data algorithm discovered one girl's teenage pregnancy before her father did.
Elections are no different, and how political parties use data in order to better target voters will be a defining feature in how election battles are won and lost in the future. The 2015 General Election was arguably the first that saw the use of big data in any meaningful way, with the Conservatives demonstrating that they were far better skilled at identifying and utilising that data than other parties. The big challenge for all political parties will be staying ahead in the age of digital campaigning. Political battles in the future will be decided less and less by who delivers the greater number of leaflets and more and more by who utilising data better to effectively target voters.
But how did we get to this point?
I'm glad you asked, because the point of this post isn't for me to prattle on, but instead to direct you to FiveThirtyEight.com, who have produced two excellent podcast episodes on data in elections. They're focussed on American politics, but data is data, so everything they talk about is equally applicable to our elections. They're a fascinating listen for anyone interested in elections, big data or, ideally, both.