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Trends and Outliers

TIBCO Spotfire's Business Intelligence Blog

03/05
2012

The Data Analytics of Super Tuesday

ovrdrv Election 2012 infographic medium 72dpi The Data Analytics of Super Tuesday

As the Republican primaries barrel ahead towards Super Tuesday, the Republican presidential candidates will be slugging it out as more than 400 delegates are at stake across 10 states. And while each of the states has some bearing on the eventual Republican candidate, many eyes will be squarely focused on Ohio. As the saying goes for presidential electoral voting, “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.”

In 2004, the voting in the Buckeye state swung the national election to George W. Bush instead of Sen. John Kerry. In fact, no Republican candidate has ever won the White House without taking Ohio.

Although a win by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (@mittromney) could arguably seal his fate as the eventual Republican nominee, a strong showing by Rick Santorum  (@ricksantorum), Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich), or Ron Paul (@ronpaul) could have statistically significant consequences.

Caucuses and primaries in Alaska, Idaho, Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, North Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia will yield 437 total delegates at the Republican convention in August. However, only 319 of those delegates would be legally bound by the results of their state’s results on Tuesday—118 would still be free to vote for the candidate of their choice this summer, according to WNYC.org.

Candidates that are trailing with delegates, notably Gingrich and Paul, could hold sway with future delegate distribution. For instance, polling data deciphered by the highly influential statistician Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight) reveals that some polls have shown that many Gingrich supporters favor Romney over Santorum as their second choice. “But when it comes to the actual behavior of voters once they get around to voting in each state, the evidence seems to be on the side of the “Anybody but Mitt” theory, Silver writes.

For instance, in Georgia (Gingrich’s home state), Oklahoma, and Tennessee (where Santorum is leading), Romney is polling in second place.

Meanwhile, Santorum could shake things up in Ohio either with an outright win or a strong enough showing to potentially influence up to 63 of the eligible electoral voters there.

Analytics can also be applied to helping identify demographic voter segments that are aligning with specific candidates in each state and particular districts. For instance, evangelical voters are being courted as a critical bloc within many of the states involved in the Super Tuesday voting, according to The Washington Post.

Of course, depending on how the voting shakes out on Super Tuesday, it’s altogether possible that the results could inadvertently bolster President Obama’s reelection bid. According to social media analysis conducted by OhMyGov, voter sentiment following the Feb. 22 Republican debate in Arizona seems to have strengthened President Obama’s reelection bid.

Following the debate, close to 19,000 people became followers of President Obama’s Twitter account, representing a nearly 400 percent jump from the previous day. According to OhMyGov, the increase in social media followers for President Obama trumped that of the biggest gainers in support among the GOP, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, by a factor of nearly 10.

No doubt more number crunching awaits after the Super Tuesday results have poured in.

Next Steps

  • Check out our recent On-Demand webcast on Predictive Analytics with featured speaker Lou Bajuk-Yorgan (@LouBajuk), Senior Director of Product Management at Tibco Spotfire.
  • Subscribe to our blog to receive more updates on the analytics of the 2012 election.

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