Evasion, Elongation, and Elasticity: The three E’s of Election Big Data

Tonight the U.S., my adopted country, had its first of three presidential debates. It took mere seconds for the first facts and figures to be thrown down as weapons of verbal war. Both candidates claimed and counter-claimed. In the end, it was impossible to see through the cloud of sketchy statistical dust that surrounded both men.

But wait…aren’t we in a big data and real-time analytics age? That’s right. We are.

Conspicuously missing from the network coverage was the rigor that is such an easy thing everywhere else in our lives. The unemployment at this moment? It’s a published number. The amount of money lent and repaid on renewable energy versus Big Oil? We know those exact facts and figures.

The number of times each candidate strayed from the truth should be pretty easy to figure out. Why weren’t they running alongside the candidates like the myriad of data we get to see every Sunday in an NFL game?

The other football fans

We didn’t get analytics for the same reason that FIFA (the World Cup’s governing body) doesn’t allow instant replay or put a chip in the ball to know when a goal was scored. Because controversy and passion is good for business. Back in France, bars would go out of business if they weren’t the perfect place for people to argue every nuance of every football (soccer) match. News outlets likewise delight in the he-said/he-said of election data evasion, elongation, and elasticity.

There isn’t even a yellow card in presidential politics, so candidates stretch and spin, knowing that reward for a volley of bad data is greater than the punishment for getting caught in a bald-faced prevarication. When your passion is in big data and real-time analytics, it can be a bit unsettling to watch.

Ah, politics.

For an interesting after-the-‘fact’ write up, see this NY Times article, or check Politifact‘s analysis of the debate.


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Categories: Data Analytics / Big Data

Author:Jeanne Roué-Taylor

I'm fascinated by disruptive technology and its impact on our world. I manage sales operations for an excellent startup with a unique team of highly experienced data scientists.

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2 Comments on “Evasion, Elongation, and Elasticity: The three E’s of Election Big Data”

  1. Larry Mann
    October 17, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

    Happy to adopt you.
    You speak of soccer, and you nailed it, the controversy has its benefits. Baseball managers and coaches, unlike any other sport I am aware of, dress the same as the players. Baseball is also the only sport I know of where a manager or coach may come out onto the field and argue a call or ask an umpire (referee) to ask for assistance from other umpires. What this means, is that the managers and coaches really ARE part of the show. They’re part of the show so they dress the part. And in a boring game, or when fans are frustrated by the home teams dismal performance, this can be just what the doctor ordered.


  1. Quora - October 5, 2012

    What technology trends will most dramatically change the world by 2015?…

    My French wife wrote a post on this very topic, lamenting the fact that our data capabilities aren’t doing their job in politics. http://successfulworkplace.com/2012/10/03/evasion-elongation-and-elasticity-the-three-es-of-election-big-data/

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