The recently concluded party primaries did showcase various dimensions that big data could help resolve.
The Big Data gamut spans hindsight, insight and foresight. More often the case, its applied in retrospect to interrogate through data mining thus offering different stakeholders including media, analysts and strategists with clarity of hindsight. This then paves way to insights , which through drilling and dimensional introspection it seeks to provide deeper meaning. The bigger benefit of the Big Data comes in the promise to prospect the outcomes with a view to deploy corrective action towards managing a desirable outcome.
Through out all this phases there has been varied awareness and appreciation of Big Data tools and practices by various Election Machineries. There is need however to appreciate the full scale of Big Data use case in election to improve quality of journalism and decisioning by the various party secretariat not to mention its application by the regulatory authority to anticipate proclivities and deploy corrective measures way in advance.
Take for instance the explosion of Political Strategists and Analysts who hop form one media outlet to the other, the value derivative of the media houses is compromised by the very fact that the source on insights that he analysts use during most of the talk shows borders sensationalism with disregard to fact. Big Data offers a fact checking platform that the various TV and Radio shows producers can use to moderate the discussions.
Social Sentiment Analysis another Big Data application that is used to gauge the polarity of various comparative dimensions. It leverages on social media networks and with the high penetration of digital platforms and increased reliance on the platforms by various stakeholders in content distribution, it forms a basis for audience participation which ought not be overlooked as a key indicator of electorate mood and outcomes. For instance, one possible use of this big data tool would be to cross validate the pen and paper research that the leading pollsters use for rating the popularity of various aspirants and this could allay the various contentions that occasioned outcomes of key primaries in a number of regions. We were for instance surprised by the outcomes of a number of gubernatorial seats based on the pollsters ratings and this lead to most of the aspirants to contest in court or resort to go for an independent party ticket.
Big Data has also found its use in electioneering through analysis of the voting patterns based on demography, psychographic and geographical. As mentioned earlier it depends at what level you utilize that information. For instance the recently concluded primaries indicated some clear voting patterns that any serious contender in the elections will need to take cognizance so as to turn the odds during the August 8th election. The high youth turn out in the Northrift region proved pivotal in the election of key youthful aspirants against the odds.
The data age is likely to spell trouble for gerrymandering. This skulduggery relies on geometry, geography, and demographic tables. Gerrymandering is, of course, the dark art of drawing a legislative map that favors your political party. That involves “packing” taking all the neighborhoods with voters who hate you and cramming them into one region. (You’ll lose that region by a landslide but have a leg up in all the others.) The reverse trick is “cracking,” breaking up a neighborhood that loathes you into chunks that you attach to other regions where you’re loved. Your opponents’ votes get spread around and dilute. This is possible with use of Big Data, the nation’s political maps can be redrawn to ones benefit.
The party primaries provided an opportunity to gauge the trend, there is an opportunity for the media, IEBC, Government, Party Secretariat and individual Party campaign secretariat to start embracing the use of the Big Data Tools to make good use and have a competitive head start.