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.
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.
– 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.