Did big data pave Obama’s path?

Over the last couple years, the press’s fascination with big data, quants, etc. has spilled into the mainstream. Add politics to the mix, with today’s report on the Obama campaign’s focus on data and metrics as a core competency:

… data-driven decisionmaking played a huge role in creating a second term for the 44th President and will be one of the more closely studied elements of the 2012 cycle. It’s another sign that the role of the campaign pros in Washington who make decisions on hunches and experience is rapidly dwindling, being replaced by the work of quants and computer coders who can crack massive data sets for insight.

It’s a common narrative: data as the great equalizer, remaking industries or activities that were formerly dominated by well-funded, old-boy networks. As someone in the space, I have mixed feelings about the publicity. On one hand, it makes explaining what I do easier; on the other, it potentially undermines analytical value and invites unproductive scrutiny.