Writing this on November 9th, the world has just experienced the shock of Donald Trump being elected President. If outcry around the world is to be believed, it is going to have a huge impact on minorities and women across the US, but it is also likely to have an impact on how people perceive data in the future.
Regardless of political preferences or potential outcomes, the truth is that almost every pollster got this wrong. There are a couple of outliers who claimed that Trump would win, but their work was generally seen as erroneous and the consensus was a comfortable win for Clinton. Whether or not this impacted voting is a question for another day, but what it has done is brought data into disrepute on the biggest stage.
It can now act as a stick with which to beat the entire concept of data-driven decisions, especially when it comes to government policy. We have seen with the appointment of DJ Patil as a major part of the Obama administration, but this policy may be scrapped in the future.
The trouble is that the importance of open data cannot be understated in government and opposition. The media needs data to evidence corruption and poor leadership, and the government needs to it create the best policies. Most importantly the general public needs to trust this is being done. With the attacks on the media throughout the campaign, how are die-hard supporters of Trump going to accept data that discredits him shown in the media.
Trump’s election campaign has been anti-data, with the new President-Elect calling it ‘overrated’ and lying about or
using misleading figures throughout, whilst his personal attacks have meant that the data used by Clinton has been largely ignored in favor of more newsworthy stories. Let’s hope that a Trump White House can embrace data and push its development within government, both for the good of the country and the industry as a whole.