What's That Database Worth?

Laura Meckler of the Wall Street Journal investigates the value and possible future uses of President Obama's massive "data trove."  Here's a quick rundown of the data at stake:

Mr. Obama's campaign collected 13.5 million email addresses in the 2008 election, according to people who worked on the effort. Officials say the list has grown since then, but officials won't say by how much.

The campaign also has lists of volunteers, including the names of neighborhood team leaders who were the most active supporters. A donor database has names of millions of people who made small campaign contributions. Campaigns aren't legally required to report the names of people who give less than $200 total, and these donors haven't been made public.

Meckler reports that Obama's staff plans to enlist supporters' help in getting the President's agenda passed, but is still debating what to do with the data over the long-term.

Did Racism Cost Obama Votes in 2008?

A new paper (PDF here) by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a Harvard Ph.D. economics student, attempts to measure whether "racial animus" cost Barack Obama votes in 2008. Using location-specific Google searches for racial epithets collected on Google Insights, and comparing Obama's 2008 performance to John Kerry's in 2004, the study concludes that racism cost Obama 3 to 5 percentage points in the popular vote.

Overstatement of the Day?

| From a New York Times review of an art exhibit by Shepard Fairey, the street artist best known for creating the Obama “hope” poster: “Before the Saks campaign makes it painful even to think about this artist, who did more than any other to get our current president elected …” If that is remotely […]

The Golden Ticket Meets Supply and Demand

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies wants the January 20 Obama inauguration to be "one of the most accessible in U.S. history."

But the the laws of supply and demand are making accessibility hard for the average citizen.

Got Six Words to Inspire America?

If Barack Obama‘s inaugural address could be just six words long, how would it read? Back in February, we ran a contest asking for a new six-word motto for the U.S. (The winner: “Our worst critics prefer to stay.”) We were riffing off of a then-new book, Not Quite What I Was Planning, which contained […]

Economists Infiltrate the White House; Now What?

Last week, President-elect Obama dominated the news — and perhaps moved the markets — by spending the three days before Thanksgiving introducing one economist after another to the American public. There were Larry Summers, Peter Orszag, Christina Romer, and Austan Goolsbee; and don’t forget Tim Geithner and Paul Volcker, neither of whom are Ph.D. economists, […]

Will Obama Reduce the Chance That You Are Called for Jury Duty?

Photo: Tom Lemo One of the changes that the “Yes We Can” movement has already wrought is a substantial increase in voter registration — particularly in swing states. In Virginia, for example, the number of registered voters increased by almost 10 percent. Since voter-registration lists are also used to construct juror lists, a possible benefit […]

Ron Paul Answers Your Questions, Part Two

Ron Paul When we solicited your questions for Congressman Ron Paul shortly after the election, so many questions came in that we split Paul’s answers into two batches, the first of which was published last week. Here is the second. Like the first batch, they are well-considered and interesting throughout; they will surely make many […]

Eric Oliver on the “Bigot Belt”

Eric Oliver is a colleague of mine at the University of Chicago. He is the author of the absolutely fantastic book Fat Politics: The Real Story Behind America’s Obesity Epidemic. He has some new and interesting insights on the “Bigot Belt,” which he has generously written up for the Freakonomics blog. The Bigot Belt By […]

Ron Paul Answers Your Questions: Part One

Do you love the smell of libertarianism in the morning? If so, today is a good day for you. Ron Paul Last week we solicited your questions for Congressman Ron Paul. There was such a big response (more than 400 comments) that we have split Paul’s answers into two batches, the first of which is […]