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This blog offers an international look at the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Indeed, campaigners worldwide are fascinated with American election campaigns. We observe relentless paid television advertising, straight-forward attack spots, sophisticated targeting and record-breaking fundraising. One cannot – and should not – simply copy paste American campaign techniques. However, campaigners out there in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia can get a lot of inspiration and specific takeaways from the most professional campaign in the world. This is the purpose of this blog.

Big Data vs. Good Old Polling in Election Campaigns

The use of big data can definitely be very powerful in election campaigns. But the controversy around Facebook and Cambridge Analytica has also shown us the value of good old public opinion research. Yes, algorithms and statistics are important, but another key to understanding public opinion is the art & science of listening to voters. Qualitative opinion research, so-called focus group discussions, are very important in that respect. It's a great tool to understand what voters know, think and feel. Simply put, focus groups explain the why behind the survey numbers. Clients who are not used to the tool often ask me how we get respondents to participate. Actually, it’s not that difficult. I always remind them that voters don’t like to take exams and be questioned about their knowledge. But, when made comfortable, many voters are actually very keen on telling their opinions.

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