Welcome to the latest in my series of tips and advice for Liberal Democrat members, which appear first in the email bulletin run by London Region for party members.
It’s extremely easy for journalists and pundits to write stories about how whichever was the latest winning political campaign did super-clever things in secret with data to target voters and win. What’s almost always lacking from such stories is any serious analysis of what was done and whether it worked. Just because one side won doesn’t mean all that it did worked, or even that if it did work it had much of an impact. Almost never mentioned, for example, is the messy reality of trying to match up data from different places to work out whether or not it is really about the same person. Nor whether piles of data actually turns out to make campaigning more effective when put to use.
But just occasionally someone takes a proper look behind the scenes at what data is really used and how useful it is. One of those exceptions is Eitan Hirsch’s Hacking the Electorate, which although about American politics is also a good guide to politics and data in the UK too. It’s a must read for anyone wanting to understand the role of data in politics.