Democratic pollster: Hillary campaign’s data malpractice

Hillary Clinton’s data analysis failed her — even with the help of Barack Obama’s 2008 data cruncher. The problem, says a Democratic pollster, wasn’t in how they crunched the data. The problem was the data they ignored — with a result that’s rarely so clear in business.

Democratic pollster and strategist Stanley Greenberg explained in a blog post a few days ago.

… When campaign developments overtake the model’s assumptions, you get surprised by the voters — and this happened repeatedly. … Astonishingly, the 2016 Clinton campaign conducted no state polls in the final three weeks of the general election and relied primarily on data analytics to project turnout and the state vote. They paid little attention to qualitative focus groups or feedback from the field, and their brief daily analytics poll didn’t measure which candidate was defining the election or getting people engaged.

Some on the team were worried, such as campaign chair John Podesta. He wanted to fire the data guy, Robbie Mook. But Clinton refused, recalling his work for Obama.

The trouble was that Hillary lacked Obama’s star power, something she probably understood but dismissed. Listen to her post-election interviews and you’ll hear her miss the people point again and again. The difference created a soft but crucial margin that put Obama over the top and left Clinton losing to a candidate no one should have lost to.

Without the Obama zing, Mook was riding bareback. The data analysis itself had to be right on, but it wasn’t — having been selected on bad assumptions that went unmodified by what sounds like a smug disregard for all that fell outside of the model.

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