IDG Answers is a community of experts who are passionate about technology. Ask a question or answer one below.
The Obama campaign was really the first national political campaign to leverage social media to its advantage back in 2008, so I'm not surprised that it would be inclined to embrace big data for 2012. There was an indication that this was happening a few months ago when the Obama campaign was publicly recruiting for data scientists and data engineers at Stanford. It makes perfect sense - they have a huge store of information on millions of individuals, and being able to leverage that information into even a 1% advantage in votes gained could make the difference between a win and a loss. Also, the campaign has the complete background information of many supporters from 2008, including education, work history, references, etc., thanks to a program ran during the post-election transition period that encouraged people to apply for administration positions. Add in over 20 million folks that like his facebook profile. Add in 10 million twitter followers That is a wealth of information, and utilizing all of this data to pitch specific appeals to individual voters has the potential to be campaign gold. And they have tens of millions of dollars to try to do it right.
I'm sure the Republican candidates are doing something similar, but I am far less familiar with their campaigns. We will see shortly whether this effort to utilize big data bears fruit. If you start seeing political messages/advertising effectively targeting you on specific issues that you care about, you can judge their success of their data analytics efforts for yourself.