If they Google You, Do you Win?

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.

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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!

Twitter – US Presidential Campaigns, Nov 7, 2015: Heat Map

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This heat map visualizes the US Presidential Campaigns on Twitter as of November 7, 2015. Darkest blue indicates the highest value. Grey indicates the lowest value.

Takeaways:

  • Bernie Sanders receives the most engagement per Tweet
  • Donald Trump Tweets the most of any candidate
  • Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have the most Followers
  • Hillary Clinton, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie have curated new Twitter feeds for the 2016 election, as indicated by low Total Tweets
  • With the exception of Donald Trump, the Democrats rank highest across the board, indicating digital competency
  • With the exception of Carly Fiorina, all candidates Tweet a moderate amount per day

Moral Foundations: Reddit Political Communities

Moral Foundations Theory is a social psychological theory intended to explain the origins of and variation in human moral reasoning. The theory proposes moral foundations such as fairness, care, in-group, authority, and purity, and has been popularized by psychologist Jonathan Haidt in his book The Righteous Mind.

Haidt describes human morality as it relates to politics and proposes differences between conservatives and liberals as they relate to the moral foundations (TED Talk). Specifically, whereas conservatives appeal to fairness, care, in-group, authority, and purity equally, liberals appeal to fairness and care more than they appeal to in-group, authority, and purity.

Setting out to observe this phenomenon within Reddit Political Communities, I performed word frequency analyses on the /r/Republican and /r/Democrats corpora, totaling the words for each moral foundation, as defined by the LIWC dictionary. Comparing the totals, I found a trend consistent with Moral Foundations Theory. The visualization shows the moral foundations for /r/Democrats normalized against those for /r/Republican, with each value for /r/Republican set at 100%.

reddit_moralfoundations

Content Strategy: The Cats Meeeow

It has been written 15% of all Internet traffic is cat-related. Whether you believe this statistic, there is no doubt cats inhabit the digital space. To cite more popular examples, we have encountered LOL Cats, Grumpy Cat, and Lil’ Bub…what cuties! To date, there are 72 million media tagged as “cat” on instagram.

With so many kitties purring around the interwebz, how might a content creator know where to start? Well I have created a visualization showing the most popular cat breeds by hashtag on instagram. Enjoy, and MEEEEEEEOW!!!
catbreedsvisualization_1

Triangles, Networks, and New Connections: Donald Trump and Bill O’reilly

oreillyfactorrealdonaldtrumpnetwork

Have you ever wanted to send a message to someone with whom you do not have direct contact? What if you knew a friend who had direct contact with this someone? You could send the message through your friend.

This principle can be modeled geometrically. Let’s say you are A and the person with whom you want to speak is C. There is no direct link between A and C. 
However, your friend, B, knows this someone, C. So there are links between you, A, and your friend, B, as well as your friend, B, and this someone, C.

Thus, your friend, B, can serve as a bridge, linking you and this someone, and a triangle is formed.

Although when presented geometrically this process may appear abstract, we are familiar with the practice in everyday settings. For instance, we link two contacts via an introduction email, or we introduce two friends at a cocktail party. Triangles are a divine geometry, as they serve to create new connections.

With the US Political season on the horizon, let’s use Twitter and apply this geometry to Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, @realdonaldtrump. Trump follows 44 twitter profiles, one of which is that of Bill O’reilly, @oreillyfactor. O’reilly follows 37 twitter profiles, one of which is that of Donald Trump. So there is a two way connection between Donald Trump and Bill O’reilly.

Well Let’s image this two way connection did not exist and that Donald Trump wanted to connect with Bill O’reilly. How might the two connect? Yes, we must find the common links between Trump and O’reilly, that is the twitter profiles that they both follow. When conducting the analysis, via Python, we find that there are 4 twitter profiles that both Trump and O’reilly follow. The four profiles are @foxandfriends, @BretBaier, @greta, and @ericbollinger . Again, here’s the visualization from above.

oreillyfactorrealdonaldtrumpnetwork

To connect with O’reilly, Trump could form a triangle from any of the four. The more links, the greater the likelihood a connection will be made. Triangles create opportunities for our message to reach peripheral networks, without us having to directly transmit the information to the end recipient.

Therein lies the true power of social networks.