A major Indian opposition party is reportedly looking to join hands with global big data analytics startup, Cambridge Analytica (CA), for reaching a larger section of the country’s voting population in the upcoming 2019 general elections. The company came into the limelight last year for assisting Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
As per a report by Moneycontrol, the data mining company made a presentation to the party in question last month, wherein it showcased a data-driven strategy based on voters’ behaviour on social media.
The approach, according to sources, would entail analysing a user’s online behaviour to identify target voters across different citizen databases.
In line with its motto, “Data drives all we do”, the big data analytics firm has already created a detailed roadmap, geared towards fostering a nationwide infrastructure for data. The collected data will help the party create a consolidated strategy that can be executed effectively.
According to one source, “The plan involves identifying the gaps in data that exists in different databases, and making relevant connections using internal and external sources and data analytics to give meaningful insights.”
As claimed by Cambridge Analytica, before the opposition can win the 2019 general elections, it will have to adopt a comprehensive data-enabled strategy for the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh. The source added, “It has also proposed building a mobile app for the party to understand how a particular party member has performed in elections, local issues etc. versus their opponents.”
How Cambridge Analytica Profiled 220 Mn American Adults Using Big Data Analytics
Created in 2013 as an offshoot of British big data analytics company Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) Group, Cambridge Analytica is a privately-held big data analytics firm that is partly owned by the family office of American right-wing billionaire, Robert Mercer.
Since its inception, CA has been involved in 44 American political races. Additionally, the big data startup was part of the famous “Leave.EU” campaign of the 2016 Brexit referendum. As part of these campaigns, Cambridge Analytica reportedly bought data from a multitude of sources, including shopping data, club memberships, bonus cards and public registries, among others.
The report further stated that the big data analytics company tracked information pertaining to the type of magazines people read, places they visit and churches they attend.
As explained by Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix, the startup’s expertise lies in collating vast amounts of seemingly disjointed data and connecting them in dots by matching voter profiles and databases. The data, according to Nix, allow CA to identify voting preferences of every voter in a particular area.
In an interaction with Motherboard, Nix claimed, “We have profiled the personality of every adult in the United States of America – 220 Mn people.”
It is interesting to note that BJP, the current ruling party in India, relied on a similar strategy based on social media and data analytics to win the 2014 elections. According to a report by The Indian Express, the Bharatiya Janata Party used advanced IT-driven tools to identify the location of supporters, who were then asked to reach out to undecided voters in the same region.
By partnering with Cambridge Analytica, the opposition party in question is likely looking to replicate the results BJP achieved in the previous election by leveraging the power of big data analytics.