Big Data under Obama and Trump: The Data-Fueled U.S. Presidency

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Big Data under Obama and Trump: The Data-Fueled U.S. Presidency


  • Barbara Trish Political Science Department, Grinnell College, USA


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Abstract:  The much-heralded use of data, analytics, and evidence-based decisions marks the U.S. presidency, wherein many processes and decisions are structured by the analysis of data. An approach with historical precedent, reliance on data was prominent under Obama, and is even under Trump, despite signals to the contrary. This article examines three cases from the Obama era: microtargeting in electoral campaigns, performance management in government, and signature drone strikes employed by the national security apparatus. It also reflects on the early Trump administration. The processes described are highly dependent on data, technically big data in two instances. The article examines the cases both on their own terms and in the context of a critical lens that directs attention to the political economy of the data. The analysis helps unpack the allure of data and analytics as well as the challenges in structuring an environment with a measured approach to data and big data, which would examine both their potential and drawback.

Keywords:  analytics; big data; data; drone strikes; evidence-based; microtargeting; Obama; performance management; president; Trump

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v6i4.1565


© Barbara Trish. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.