Obama’s data machine

2008’s “hope and change” morphed into “Big Data” in 2012:

In fact, the tech side was the only part of the Obama operation that could credibly be framed as a throwback to the old Hope and Change: Despite the slash-and-burn quality of the Obama reelection campaign as seen by America’s television viewers, the president’s 33 million Facebook fans “were experiencing a whole different campaign that was largely positive,” Goff explained at Harvard. “What they were experiencing was this uplifting stuff about supporting the middle class, about fighting for education, and that kind of thing.” And when you consider that Obama’s Facebook fans were themselves friends with 98 percent of Facebook users in the U.S.—“That’s more than the number of people who vote,” Goff said—then the Obamanauts can plausibly argue that, for many Obama voters, maybe 2012 wasn’t that different from 2008 after all.

Even more important, the nerd narrative gives the Obamanauts hope for the future. After their historic victory in 2008, they predicted that their candidate was so amazing that he could single-handedly transform Washington by sheer force of will. That obviously didn’t come to pass. But now they are making similar predictions—not because of their man but because of their machine. “Luckily for us, I don’t see anyone on the Republican side who understands what we did,” Bird told me in Cambridge before going on to explain not only his grand designs of electing another Democrat president in 2016, but also for turning Texas blue.

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