Trump's big-data gurus scout presidential candidate in Mexico
(Bloomberg) -- Cambridge Analytica, the big-data firm that advised President Donald Trump in his successful election campaign, is turning to Mexico in search of a new presidential candidate to get behind.
Cambridge is partnering with Pig.gi, a phone app in Mexico and Colombia that gives 200,000 active users free service in exchange for watching ads, reading stories and taking surveys. The analytics firm is hoping to use data mined from Pig.gi to help a candidate in Mexico’s July 2018 presidential election, and several political parties have already expressed interest, according to both companies.
Cambridge is wading into a country with a history of divisive and sometimes violent elections. Next year’s contest to lead Latin America’s second-biggest economy isn’t expected to be any different as Mexico has been rocked by corruption scandals, vote-buying accusations and reports of spying.
Based in London and funded in part by the family of billionaire Robert Mercer, Cambridge has come under fire for its tactics in campaigns from the Brexit vote in the U.K. to its digital activity for Trump. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia said this week that he wants to look into work by Cambridge because of the way false election stories about Hillary Clinton were circulated and targeted online.
Low TurnoutIn its latest venture, Cambridge is seeking commercial clients as well as political ones. For the latter, its goal is to bring Mexican politicians more in tune with the electorate.
“So many people are undecided and unmotivated” in Mexico, Brittany Kaiser, Cambridge’s vice president of business development, said in an interview in Mexico City. “There’s a huge opportunity in this country to find the issues that are important for people and actually turn people out to vote.”
Left-leaning Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is the only member of a political party who has emerged as a presidential aspirant and it will be difficult for other parties to play catch-up, she said.
In one mobile-phone survey this month conducted by Pig.gi, whose demographic is young, middle-class Mexicans, Lopez Obrador was favored by 49 percent of the 3,666 respondents, followed far behind by the National Action Party’s Margarita Zavala, with 18 percent.
That doesn’t align with results by scientific polls, which show approval levels for aspirants from major parties as far closer. Pig.gi’s survey also showed that respondents had the most positive perception of Lopez Obrador, said Isaac Philips, co-founder of Pig.gi, whose clients include Coca Cola Co., Anheuser-Busch InBev and HSBC Holdings Plc.
“If any of the parties wanted to be very successful, they should already be undertaking significant work toward the election,” Kaiser said. “But the sooner they choose their candidate, the better off they’ll be.”