Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Quote of the day: The Donald disses data, embraces truthiness

The quote: “Flying blind is nuts.” - Jeremy Bird, who worked for Obama’s data-rich campaign.

truth·i·ness /tro͞oTHēnis/
noun informal
the quality of seeming or being felt to be true, even if not necessarily true.

It is widely understood that Obama won two national elections because of his campaign's savvy use of large databases. Donald Trump, running full out against that wisdom, has called the use of data "overrated".

Here are snippets from the AP report in this morning's Daily Star.

Donald Trump says he plans to win the White House largely on the strength of his personality, not by leaning heavily on complex voter data operations that have become a behind-the-scenes staple in modern presidential campaigns.

Shortly after Trump explained his approach in an Associated Press interview — data is “overrated,” he said — one of the presumptive Republican nominee’s top advisers tried to clarify the remarks. Rick Wiley told AP the Trump campaign will indeed tap the Republican Party’s massive cache of voter information.

The national Republican Party has spent massive sums of money to develop the database since President Obama’s election set a new standard for using data in national campaigns, from deciding where to send a candidate and how to spend advertising dollars to making sure supporters cast a ballot.

The back-and-forth in the Trump camp leaves Republicans and Democrats alike wondering just how committed the candidate actually is to what has become accepted wisdom among political professionals.

Some Republicans worry that Trump risks ceding potential advantages to likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton if he’s not willing to invest the money required to keep updating the data and then use it effectively.

“Obama got the votes much more so than his data-processing machine, and I think the same is true with me,” Trump said, explaining that he will continue to focus on his signature rallies, free television exposure and his personal social-media accounts to win voters over.

Buzz Jacobs, who was on the losing end of Obama’s success in 2008 as an aide to GOP nominee John McCain, said Trump oversimplifies the president’s victories.

“We lost in large part because Obama’s ability to use data was so much better than ours,” Jacobs said.

But, Mr. Trump, you just keep on thinking the opposite.

Disclosure: The Donald did not exactly say he embraced truthiness as an operating principle. But if he disses data, what else does he have? His oratory on the campaign trail thus far suggests his preference for truthiness over facts.

Keep dissing the data, Donald. Please.

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