Big Data: Powering the Race for the White House
Despite the advent of new media, campaigns for President still measure the electorate in pretty much the same way they did 40 years ago, through traditional polls to landline phones. That could all change this year. The hottest job in today’s Presidential campaigns is the Data Mining Scientist -- whose job it is to sort through terabytes of data and billions of behaviors tracked in voter files, consumer databases, and site logs. They’ll use the numbers to uncover hidden patterns that predict how you’ll vote, if you’ll pony up with a donation, and if you’ll influence your friends to support a candidate. This panel will delve deep into the world of real-time data on Presidential campaigns, showing how it’ll be used to make decisions on everything from the layout of a signup form to where to spend millions of advertising dollars in the closing days of a campaign. Forget about which candidate has the most likes on Facebook or followers on Twitter -- and learn why 2012 will be the year of Big Data in American politics.
Alex Lundry is Vice President and Director of Research at TargetPoint Consulting where he works as a pollster, microtargeter, data-miner and data-visualizer. As a pollster, he has conducted surveys and moderated focus groups on subjects spanning the race for the White House all the way to Hollywood movies. He is one of the country’s leading experts on electoral targeting, voter analytics and political data-mining, responsible for the microtargeting programs of presidential candidates, national membership and advocacy organizations, and Fortune 10 companies. Alex is also a creator of political data visualizations and infographics, and his work in this field has been featured by Wired Magazine, Fast Company, and the Washington Post. In 2009, Politics Magazine named him a "Rising Star” and he is an adjunct instructor of Statistics in the Government Departments of Georgetown and Johns Hopkins University.
Dan Siroker is the Co-Founder & CEO of Optimizely, a dramatically easier way to A/B test your website. The inspiration for Optimizely came from Dan's experience as the Director of Analytics for the Obama Presidential Campaign and Deputy New Media Director for the Presidential Transition. Before Optimizely, Dan co-founded an online math game for kids called CarrotSticks. He was formerly a Product Manager for Google Chrome and AdWords. Dan graduated with Honors from Stanford University with a B.S. in Computer Science.
Josh Hendler has worked at the intersection of politics, non-profits, and technology for nearly a decade. He most recently served as the Chief Technology Officer at Jumo - a social platform for connecting individuals and organizations working to change the world. He managed Jumo’s technology and product offerings. Prior to joining Jumo, he was the Director of Technology for the Democratic National Committee and Organizing for America -- overseeing the national party’s technology efforts, software development, infrastructure and data warehouse.
He has held many roles in political and non-profit technology, including Labour's 2005 election in Britain, Rock the Vote, and John Kerry's 2004 Presidential campaign. Josh has also worked at ThoughtWorks as a strategic consultant, and was an early technology hire for MLB Advanced Media.
Josh is a graduate of the Gallatin School at New York University, and hails from New York originally.
Kristen Soltis is the Vice President at The Winston Group, a strategic consulting and polling firm. She has conducted opinion research for clients such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She is a senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum and has been a panelist at the American Enterprise Institute. She currently serves on the board of the America's Future Foundation.
Kristen is the co-host of Bloggingheads.TV's "The Week In Blog" show as well as Variety's "Wilshire and Washington" weekly podcast. She regularly appears on outlets such as MSNBC, Fox Business, and BBC Radio. She is a regular contributor to Huffington Post Pollster and her writing has appeared in POLITICO, National Review “The Corner,” The Huffington Post, The New York Times' "Room For Debate" and US News's "Debate Club."
She is the author of a chapter on opinion research technology in the forthcoming political science text Margin of Victory. She was a “Mover and Shaker” in Campaigns & Elections magazine and has completed the Women's Campaign School at Yale University. She was named to the inaugural class of the Foreign Policy Initiative’s “Future Leaders” program.
Kristen earned her Master's in Government from Johns Hopkins University, where she graduated summa cum laude. Her research on young voters received "Best Thesis" honors and her work on campaign finance has been published in journal American Politics Research. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Florida.
Kristen was born in Orlando, FL and currently resides in Washington, DC.
Patrick Ruffini is president at Engage, a digital agency with clients including Fortune 500 companies, Presidential and statewide candidates, technology startups, and issue advocacy campaigns.
As a leader in digital politics over the last decade, Ruffini’s work has helped elect a President, changed the direction of powerful institutions, and resulted in millions of signups, tens of millions of dollars raised, and thousands of blog and media mentions.
Ruffini has shaped digital strategy for national candidates in each of the last three elections. From 2005 to 2006, Ruffini served as eCampaign Director for the Republican National Committee. In 2004, Ruffini was one of the earliest members of President George W. Bush’s re-election team, helping recruit and mobilize more than six million online supporters.
Today, Ruffini is most passionate about helping causes, candidates, and brands mobilize their supporters to action. Blending national campaign experience with an eye towards technology and design, he has guided the development of industry-leading products at Engage, including Multiply, which measures and rewards action taken by fans across a multitude of online platforms, including social media, e-mail and websites.
Ruffini’s entrepreneurial focus was recognized by Washingtonian Magazine when it named him to its list of Tech Titans for 2011. He was named a Rising Star in American politics by Campaigns & Elections magazine in 2008, and a profile in The Atlantic concluded that Ruffini “looks poised to become of the most influential Republican political strategists of his generation.” Ruffini has appeared on Fox News, HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, and C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, and his work has been highlighted by the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, and Newsweek.
Ruffini is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he most enjoyed studying the history of Presidential communication. Outside work, Ruffini can usually be found chasing after his three boundlessly energetic daughters. He likes long-distance running, reading, dabbling with the occasional coding project, and geeking out over the latest tech early adopter craze.