March 19, 2008

Predictive Modeling the 2008 Elections...

In my content research for this blog, I look for specific articles relating to fundraising analytics, broader articles on analytics, or theory that provide either lessons or questions transferrable to our work, as well as other examples of creative minds using past behavior to predict future behavior. Without politicizing this blog, I want to share this article on Ken Strasma, a political analytics guru for a current presidential hopeful.

I was generally unaware of the depth and nuance of this pursuit of analytics. Particularly attractive I believe is the ability to model what are fundamentally just opinions (not financial transactions, such as charitable giving or consumer spending as opinions by proxy). I considered the lack of explicit numeric metrics to be a difficult obstacle to overcome, but Strasma and his colleagues have developed techniques to model not only complex preferences, but also predict what is essentially non-regular behavior (ie voting).

Strasma says:
“..there are a number of basic questions predictive analytics tries to answer for any campaign. These include how likely it is a voter is undecided, what issues undecided voters care about, how likely it is that a voter supports a certain candidate and how likely it is that an individual will contribute if asked.”

For our work, I considered this analysis to be similar to who has interest in giving, what causes do they support, how likely are they to support our organization, how much would they contribute to our organization, or more simply, who is a suspect, a prospect, what is the target, and what is the actual ask amount?

I hope this article enlightens your assumptions of predictive modeling, as it did for me.

Candidates Use Predictive Analytics To Seek Votes

As the primary race grinds on, the candidates are turning to predictive analytics tools to help find voters ready to support them.

A company called VisualCalc provides a free Web site that helps citizens analyze the presidential race through a series of dashboards that chart the status and trends of the primary election.

On the flip side, candidates in this year's historical race for the White House—for the first time a woman and a black man are vying for the Democratic Party nomination alongside a single presumptive Republican nominee—have similar tools to provide information that may help them attract those key undecided voters.

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