I saw two interesting Barack Obama-related items over the past few days. (This isn’t a “vote for Obama” post, it’s more about process.) The first is this spreadsheet of internal predictions from the Obama campaign that was leaked on February 7. In it, his campaign predicts how the popular vote and delegate allocations will turn out in each state, and the thing about it is that it’s amazingly accurate. He underestimates his margin in some states he won, but his predictions aren’t far off until late in the primary season.
Well ahead of time, his campaign predicted that it would lose Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania. Given that they had a plan for victory, it’s clear that the plan accounted for not winning those states. I think his late season underperformance has to more to do with the fact that he didn’t have to try very hard late in the season. He was going to win the nomination with or without Kentucky or West Virginia, and so he put less money and face time into those races than he would have had he needed to do better there to secure the nomination.
As someone who’s asked every day to predict how long it will take to fix bugs and add features to software, I’m impressed with this degree of accuracy in projecting the future. I’d love to read a post-mortem after the election that explains how the campaign came up with its forecast.
The other thing I found interesting was Obama’s June 6 speech to campaign staff. It answers the question, “How do you explain to employees that they don’t get any days off for the next five months?” I think he does a pretty good job.