Algorithm and Blues: Why Hillary’s Moneyball Strategy Failed

Photo by Veni | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Veni | CC BY 2.0

When I wrote on election night that the Clinton campaign had forsaken class politics for “politics by algorithm,” I had no idea that they really had such an “app” or that they had named it after Lord Byron’s daughter, the brilliant Ada Lovelace, the real brains behind the first computer. (Ada would have run a better campaign.) Apparently, Clinton campaign gameboy Robbie Mook ran 500,000 simulations of the election on his Xbox. How many of them had 90,000 Michigan voters leaving their choice for president blank? How many results showed her losing the white women vote by 10 percent? How many showed the vote in union households split nearly 50-50?

As we know from the Wikileaks dumps, Clintonian paranoia extended far beyond her decision to set up a private email server and began to infect the campaign itself. Nargiza Gafurova was an analytics specialist for one of the database companies doing contract work for the Clinton campaign. “Our company worked with her campaign on their data needs – they’ve been extremely secretive about the data and algorithms they use,” Gafurova told me. “Secrecy was so deep that we couldn’t help them effectively as they didn’t even tell us who they want to target.”

The Clinton brain trust made a fatal decision three years ago to run a campaign based on identity politics powered by deep demographic analytics and an almost unlimited reservoir of money from Wall Street and Silicon Valley elites….

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