When Clinton operatives talk about their “data-based” campaign, it’s invariably Kriegel’s data, and perhaps more importantly his models interpreting that data, they are talking about. It was an algorithm from Kriegel’s shop — unreported until now — that determined, after the opening states, where almost every dollar of Clinton’s more than $60 million in television ads was spent during the primary.
The tool bypassed the expertise and instincts of her traditional media buyers by calculating the “cost per flippable delegate,” in the words of one senior Clinton official, and then spat out what states, television markets, networks and shows to buy. Obama veterans were wowed by its advancement; internally, some Clintonites saw it as their secret weapon in building an insurmountable delegate lead over Bernie Sanders.
Now, with Donald Trump investing virtually nothing in data analytics during the primary and little since, Kriegel’s work isn’t just powering Clinton’s campaign, it is providing her a crucial tactical advantage in the campaign’s final stretch. It’s one of the reasons her team is confident that, even if the race tightens as November approaches, they hold a distinctive edge. As millions of phone calls are made, doors knocked and ads aired in the next nine weeks, it is far likelier the Democratic voter contacts will reach the best and most receptive audiences than the Republican ones.
Zac Moffatt, who served as Mitt Romney’s digital director in 2012, was already worried about this back during the Republican primaries. In an interview then, Moffatt feared that whoever emerged as the GOP nominee would be perilously handicapped when it came to data analytics just as Romney had been compared to President Barack Obama who, like Clinton, had honed an analytics operation more than a year in advance.
“If you’re not prepared for it, you can’t catch up,” Moffatt said. “You can’t have a baby in 3 months, that’s just the reality of life. I tried.”