After the original and re-run Kenyan presidential elections, the Austrian legislative elections, the snap election in the UK, and the US presidential election in November 2016, fake news on Facebook, computational propaganda on Twitter, and other interventions have revealed modern democracy's vulnerabilities. Erosion of trust in public institutions, information overload, narrowing margins of victory, and preference for our friends over traditional media outlets as gatekeepers have all incentivized political campaigns to leverage digital tactics to win over hearts and minds. The most valuable asset underlying these methods is data, and political campaigns are becoming disruptors of their own as start up-like tech supplants old-fashioned approaches to politics. Campaigns now accumulate and curate data because it serves as a window into understanding voters. As politicking changes, the tradeoffs made by campaigns are raising fundamental questions about democratic participation.
To understand how political campaigns are evolving, Tactical Tech attended CampaignTech Europe, an inside look at leading political campaigns in the US and Europe and the strategies they employ. A glimpse at the data and practices touted by political campaigns and strategists suggests a new political modus operandi.
Published as part of the Our Data Our Selves project, The New Disruptors is an article that takes a glimpse at the data and practices touted by political campaigns.