PHOTO CAPTION: Can you guess her political leanings by the car she drives?

EVs and Eco-Conscious Voters

The kind of car you drive can say a lot about your political leanings, we're learning from mining Big Data.

Published: 16-Mar-2016

By Beth Suzanne

In election years past, candidates have spent hundreds of millions of dollars financing presidential campaigns all with one goal in mind: getting their name on the most ballots. Fast forward to the 2016 election season and little has changed. Being armed with today’s latest technological advancements, however, has enabled campaign marketing strategists to understand and engage with the electorate like never before. The Internet, and the ever-widening ecosystem of the “Internet of Things”, is helping both big business and “Big Money” acquire enormous swathes of detailed, demographic data to hone and personalize their messages.   

It’s well known that both Democrats and Republican candidates work closely with professionals who conduct scientific polls to predict the outcome of the election. While these models can measure approximate standing in the polls, there is room for a statistical margin of error. The burgeoning “Big Data” revolution allows for an even clearer glimpse into the minds and predicted actions of voters.

Does Your Car Predict Your Vote?

It’s been proven that information identifying a potential voter’s choice of vehicle can be used to accurately predict the candidate they will choose in the general election. It's not all that far-fetched of a concept - analyzing such research data yields far more telling results than one is bound to think.

In a Car Talk poll of 1,200 car owners, with half being Democrat and the other being Republican, those who owned an electric car were 86 percent more likely to vote Democrat. Why? If you think about which candidates support green energy, you will find that Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton both have a much “cleaner” track record than their opponents, and both have spoken out for strong action on climate change and in favor of renewable power. You yourself can click here to participate in the survey.

To find sympathetic environmentalists – or, conversely, climate change deniers – politicians are looking increasingly towards this type of demographic data. “Knowing the nuances of each voter beyond whether they lean right or left makes every difference,” said JC Medici, national director of politics and advocacy at Silicon Valley data firm Rocket Fuel. “We can identify what people are persuadable.” When used in conjunction with other consumer data, information about the car you drive can be a very accurate predictor of who you’ll choose for President.

Television has always been the easiest way to “talk” to the most people at once, and today it’s possible for political marketing teams to collect strikingly personal data about viewers to churn out specially-targeted “addressable” political messages. Two top pay-TV companies, DirecTV and DISH network, have partnered to offer politicians access to their vast trove of customer information – bringing “Big Data” knowledge to this year’s election in an unprecedented, even unimaginable, way.

With each candidate vying for a spot in the White House, it is essential for them to gain an advantage over the other, and it’s no question that this year’s race is one of the messiest in recent memory. Now we've come a long way from the 2012 election, when the Obama campaign first implemented many of the campaign marketing tactics we see today. Gone are the days of shooting an advertisement into the void. If a candidate knows what you drive, where you’re headed, and what you like to listen to while you get there, there’s a good chance they’ll be able to capture your attention – still, it’s up to you to make the decision on Election Day, and critical thinking is what will ultimately get us where we need to go.

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