4 Days before the 2016 US Presidential Election, what does the Twitterwonk Model show?
Here are monthly, weekly, and daily views starting June 2015 through October 2016.
The model, which is a function of Twitter activity, shows Trump in the lead.
While the model correctly predicted the primaries, jury is still out whether the same dynamic applies to the general election. Regardless, 2016 will be remembered as an election in which social media, on both the left and the right, played a dominant role. I believe social media will play an even greater role in future elections, shaping political communication for decades to come, as well as becoming a primary source for the measurement of public opinion. In the meantime, let’s see how this election plays out in the remaining days…I predict many will be surprised at how close the results turn out to be.
In a way, this election is a referendum on “do actions speak louder than words”, is what people do in the privacy of their internet browsing more reflective of their future behavior than what they tell pollsters? And while I have focused on twitter as a barometer of public opinion, there are other data sources that could signal the private thoughts and future actions of voters. The linked NYT article, “If they Google you, Do you Win?”, mentions using the Google queries “Trump Clinton” vs. “Clinton Trump” as signals of voter interest, with the respective queries reflecting bias towards the candidate listed first, i.e. “Clinton Trump” would reflect bias towards Clinton. Using this methodology, I researched Google trends for Battleground states to see where public opinion may be. The data are displayed below.
For the month of October 2016, “Trump Clinton” leads “Clinton Trump” in every state with the exception of Nevada.
You might say Trump is a polarizing celebrity, and for that reason he may be top of mind even if the individual plans to vote for Clinton. Okay, well then let’s penalize Trump 10%. Even in that case, ‘Factored “Trump Clinton”‘ indicates that, with the exception of Nevada, the three states that are in play are Virginia, Iowa, and Florida.
So while it is unclear in which direction the election will result, I believe we may be surprised at how close the results turn out to be, and that one thing we may remember is the discrepancy between what was reported in the polls leading up to the election and what actually happened online. We only have 4 days left to see which source provides a clearer signal of truth, and until then….Good luck to both candidates!
“Many people will be shocked at how close this election will be.”
Over the past months I have developed a process for understanding elections through the lens of Twitter data. Combining and comparing Twitter metrics, the process provides an ordinal representation of where the candidates stand amongst one another. I am excited to announce the process will be unveiled over the coming weeks as a website, named Twitterwonk. It is my hope Twitterwonk will serve as a tool for better understanding elections as we further immerse ourselves in the age of new media. To kick us off, here is a visualization displaying the Twitterwonk Score for the Republican and Democrat frontrunners. Good luck to all the candidates, and may Twitterwonk serve you.
As of January 27, 2016, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton in the Iowa and New Hampshire polls (Real Clear Politics). Here we present how Trump hit, Hillary fired back and left the goal open for The Bern.
Displaying a composite score, calculated with Twitter data in a process outlined in my previous post, the visualization presents the decline that allowed Bernie Sanders to rise above Hillary Clinton.
It started on December 8, 2015, when Donald Trump released his statement on preventing muslim immigration. Over the next two weeks, Hillary Clinton would respond to Trump in a fury of statements on foreign policy, ultimately leading to her decline. And while Bernie Sanders also responded to Trump, he did not waver from domestic policy, which better resonates with the compassionate tone of both Democrat candidates. Christmas brought a change in tone for Hillary, but by this point it was too late: Sanders had already gained the lead. Here are the kind of statements on domestic policy that reversed Hillary’s decline.
“There’s no reason for teachers and nurses to ever pay higher tax rates than top CEOS.”
“It shouldn’t be so hard to be a working parent.”
“We need to make it easier for women to get ahead at work while still being there for their families.”
NYMAG just published a profile on Trump supporters and the appeal to “Testicular Fortitude”, i.e. strength. While many pages could be spent on the topic, it rings clear that the Commander-in-Chief must be compassionate at home and ruthless abroad. A word no short of “destroy” is expected in reference to America’s enemies (used by President Obama, Trump, and Sanders), especially during times of uncertainty. Hillary’s gift for empathizing with the other has made her a skillful Secretary of State, and it may have cost her The White House.
Donald Trump: 6/16/15 – 1/16/16
Most Mentioned Moments on Twitter
- Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration: Dec 8, 2015
- Live Tweeting Democrat Debate: Oct 13, 2015
- GOP Debate: Dec 15, 2015
- GOP Debate: Aug 8, 2015
- It’s not a Fence, Jeb, It’s a WALL: Aug 25, 2015
- US Sailors Response: Jan 14, 2016
- GOP Debate: Sep 16, 2015
- GOP Debate: Oct 28, 2015
- Paris Attacks: Nov 13, 2015
- Hillary ISIS Video: Dec 21, 2015
- #AskTrump @TwitterNYC: Sep 21, 2015
- Hillary, there is nothing to laugh about: Nov 23, 2015
Celebrity businessman Donald Trump has single handedly disrupted the right-wing political playbook with a winners and losers worldview delivered through a charismatic, entertaining social media feed, shaping what remains of mainstream media. Find below his Top 16 Tweets since 6/16, when Trump announced he would run for President.
- Notice that illegal immigrants will be given ObamaCare and free college tuition but nothing has been mentioned about our VETERANS.
- My prayers are with the victims and hostages in the horrible Paris attacks. May God be with you all.
- Merry Christmas to all. Have a great day and have a really amazing year. Together, we will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! It will be done!
- We need much tougher, much smarter leadership – and we need it NOW!
- Al-Shabbab, not ISIS, just made a video on me – they all will as front-runner & if I speak out against them, which I must. Hillary lied!
- What is our President doing?
- I skipped a speech given years ago at Mar-a-Lago by dopey @GeorgeW because he’s BORING and he never forgot!
- Man shot inside Paris police station. Just announced that terror threat is at highest level. Germany is a total mess-big crime. GET SMART!
- When I said that Hillary Clinton got schlonged by Obama, it meant got beaten badly. The media knows this. Often used word in politics!
- Wish Obama would say ISIS, like almost everyone else, rather than ISIL.
- Hillary said that guns don’t keep you safe. If she really believes that she should demand that her heavily armed bodyguards quickly disarm!
- The State Of The Union speech was one of the most boring, rambling and non-substantive I have heard in a long time. New leadership fast!
- The #SOTU speech is really boring, slow, lethargic – very hard to watch! Next year will be an interesting one.
- I look forward to running against Hillary Clinton, a totally flawed candidate, and beating her soundly.
- For those that don’t think a wall (fence) works, why don’t they suggest taking down the fence around the White House? Foolish people!
- I am officially running for President of the United States.
Guns, Fences, ISIS, God, Christmas, Obama, Hillary, and George W — take note America!
“I come from the ‘60s, a long time ago,” Hillary Clinton said at Saturday’s Democratic Presidential debate, in response to a question about student activism. The gaffe has mostly fallen on deaf ears.
Hillary Clinton is 68 years old. She was born October 26, 1947. Here is a visualization showing the age distribution of US Presidents upon assuming the Oval Office.
To date, only three US Presidents between the ages 65-69 have assumed the Oval Office. Once again, Hillary Clinton is 68 years old. She “come(s) from the ‘60s, a long time ago.”
Granted, the US population is aging. However, when selecting Presidents, this aging US population has trended towards younger Presidents.
Age upon assuming Oval Office: Barack Obama, 47 years old; George W. Bush, 54 years old; Bill Clinton, 46 years old.
Hillary wishes to dispel the age perception. HFA recently posted the SnapChat logo wearing a most recognizable pantsuit.
Of all the social networks, Snapchat skews youngest. According to Business Insider, 45% of Snapchat users are between the ages 18-24.
Thus, a strategy has emerged: capture the young mind. Win the unspoiled voter, who is excited by the prospect of casting her first vote. Btw, Hillary uses Snapchat.
Further evidence of the strategy:
Twitter Banner displaying young prospective voters
HFA blog post appealing to youth and “a new age”
We should expect age to become a louder issue as the campaigns unfold. For reference, here are the ages of all the candidates, both Democrats and Republicans. Those between the ages 44- 60 are in bold.
Hilary Clinton, 68 years old
Bernie Sanders, 74 yeards old
Martin O’Malley, 52 years old
Donald Trump, 69 years old
Ben Carson, 64 years old
Marco Rubio, 44 years old
Ted Cruz, 44 years old
Jeb Bush, 62 years old
Carly Fiorina, 61 years old
John Kasich, 63 years old
Rand Paul, 52 years old
Emotion drives our decision-making. By appealing to emotion, others can persuade us to make decisions. We experience this during political campaigns.
Donald Trump knows the power of emotion. A charismatic leader, Trump infuses his speeches with appeals to emotion. Sentiment analysis makes this clear.
Comparing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I sampled tweets from their respective profiles, published between Monday October 5, 2015, and Sunday October 11, 2015. Using sentiment analysis, each tweet was given a score between -1, the most negative, and +1, the most positive. Plotted across the 7 days, the results are displayed below, with Trump in red and Hillary in blue.
Trump exhibits a noisier sentiment artifact. Trump has almost no tweets with a sentiment score of 0. Trump peaks at +1 nine times; Hillary peaks at +1 three times. Using statistics, we see with Trump there is a greater range of sentiment, with a tendency towards positive sentiment. The Median Sentiment for Donald Trump is 0.21, whereas the Median Sentiment for Hillary Clinton is 0. The Standard Deviation for Donald Trump is 0.39, whereas the Standard Deviation for Hillary Clinton is 0.30.
|Donald Trump||Hillary Clinton|
So why does this matter? Noisy sentiment drives engagement.
The chart below shows average tweet engagement for the respective profiles, for tweets published between Monday October 5, 2015, and Sunday October 11, 2015.
|Donald Trump||Hillary Clinton|
– Trump received 1.31 retweets for every 1 retweet Clinton received
– Trump received 1.79 favorites for every 1 favorite Clinton received
So while some political analysts doubt Trump’s ability to win over the Republican Establishment, these findings clearly show Trump resonates with the people who have direct access to him on Twitter. Like television before it, social media has ushered in a new era of political campaign strategy, and we must ask, how will this new means of communication influence the selection of the Republican Presidential Nominee.