How Politicians Can Use Big Data to Win Elections

How Politicians Can Use Big Data to Win Elections

The advent of the internet changed the way
citizens learned about their politicians, but it also changed the way politicians learned
about their citizens. By applying computer analytics to district
maps, political operatives can now use income, age, and the things you buy to predict where
and how Americans vote. Thanks to Big Data, it's easier than ever for politicians to manipulate their voting districts and to Gerrymander. Every 10 years, after the U.S. census is collected, states are legally mandated to redraw their political districts. There are a couple rules for redistricting,
but the main one is that new districts must be equal in population size: one person, one vote. But politicians often redraw districts in
ways that benefit themselves. When one party disproportionately benefits
from the way the district maps are drawn, it’s known as gerrymandering. Here’s a simple way to understand its consequences: gerrymandering allows politicians to choose their voters instead of voters choosing them. Some gerrymandered districts are so weird
that they have nicknames. Pennsylvania’s 7th district is called “Goofy
kicking Donald Duck.” Maryland’s 3rd district is known as the
“Praying Mantis.” These oddly-shaped districts aren’t new. In fact, they’ve been around almost as long as our country. In 1812, Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts signed into law a state Senate map tilted to his advantage. A cartoonist thought it resembled a salamander, and thus the “Gerrymander” was born. You can actually see how computer advances make gerrymandering more extreme. In the '70s, as soon as commercial computers
became available, both major political parties started using early mapping software to draw districts in ways they deemed to be more advantageous. By the 1990 redistricting cycle, the process had gone entirely digital. Computers were now small enough and sophisticated enough to independently run advanced redistricting software. By the 2000 cycle, computers had the processing power to analyze “Big Data” sets. This means they were able to assess people’s individual lifestyle habits and determine which way they’d most likely vote. Politicians used data to create better gerrymanders than humans could ever dream up. The redistricting software “Maptitude” cross-references public data, such as demographics, race, and voting history with consumer data — such as social media posts and magazine subscriptions. Algorithms then predict an individual’s
political leaning. These datasets are what help mapmakers determine where to redraw district lines. Pennsylvania mapmakers created the “Goofy Kicking Donald Duck” shape by cutting through 5 counties. They carved out Democratic votes around Philadelphia and added rural Republican votes in Lancaster county. Pennsylvania has 5 registered Democrats for every 4 registered Republicans, but Republicans control 13 of the 18 congressional districts. Another example is Maryland’s 3rd district. The “Praying Mantis” splits up counties and neighborhoods but in ways that favor Democrats. In 2011, Democrats allegedly chopped up District 6 and glued a wealthy Democratic suburb near DC onto District 3. Pennsylvania and Maryland are just two of several states that have faced lawsuits over this gerrymandering technology. Legal battles over maps in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Virginia, and Texas could alter the voting districts by the 2018 midterms. What will happen after the 2020 census? The software will to continue to advance, but will we leave that power in the hands of politicians or will voters hand that power to citizens?

12 thoughts on “How Politicians Can Use Big Data to Win Elections

  1. Both parties work towards the same goal to bring about world communism under Jewish rule. The 45 goals of communism describe in detail how that will be achieved by mixing and dividing the people any way possible.

    When all parameters are right, they can manipulate Democratic ratios to switch to a one party system. In the 2020 census,
    Immigrants count mostly towards Democratic seats in congress. By distributing them strategically in certain states, Democrats can fine tune how many additional seats they get. Republicans lose as many seats, making it mathematically a one party system.

  2. I've seen hundreds of videos now about how politicians use big data… Almost all the videos were as vague as this one… I have doubt now that if it's even true… Because nobody seems to know how it really works…

  3. Here's how to fix this. Take congressional districting out of the hands of politicians. Put together a team of 4 citizens with the appropriate education in demographics and computer modeling. Make sure it is a bipartisan team.
    Instead of a state's entire government, select a committee of 3 people from each party. They all have to approve any changes from the old district map. This way, the party in power at the time the districts are mapped won't be able to Gerrymander for control.

  4. if we already know how people are going to vote to such high accuracy
    that we can carve the populous into such odd shapes
    then why bother to separate people at all ?
    just have a popular vote

  5. The same "big data" can also be used build maps that are strictly neutral. Why not offer a mathematics prize for the best way to do this?

  6. I'll never understand why the US allows this. Why not just assign a certain number of seats for each state, allocated by population? They cannot be gerrymandered and would more accurately reflect the views of the citizens, not to mention the fact that it would open the door to viable third parties in the lower house. I mean come on! America has dozens of ways to fix this, but it can't?

  7. And that's exactly why we have a lunatic in the White House, in 2010 the Repugs Tea Party was born and they flipped the House just in time for the census. Gerrymandering should be outlawed in every state it undermines the one person one vote democracy

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