Commentary

Real-Time Election, Real-Time Influence?


Finally, after more than 18 months of campaigning, tons of mud-slinging, polls, primaries, surreal circus-style debates, scandals, and hyperbole, it’s now election day. Voter sentiment has been tracked and monitored in real time via polling, sophisticated analytics, and social media mentions. Now it comes down to exercising one’s constitutional right. Tomorrow will be a historic day, no matter who wins this polarizing presidential race.


There’s some interesting data from Talkwalker, a social media analytics firm that has been tracking the highs and lows of the presidential social media campaigns.

As of 11 p.m. last night, it said the top three tweets from Donald J. Trump, who addressed voters in Pennsylvania and Michigan, were:

--“Thank you Pennsylvania- I am forever grateful for your amazing support. LETS MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! #MAGA VOTE.GOP” (over 14,000 retweets and 36,000 likes)
--“Thank you Michigan! This is a MOVEMENT that will never be seen again- it’s our last chance to #DrainTheSwamp!” (over 13,000 retweets and 35,000 likes)
--“Our American comeback story begins 11/8/16. Together, we will MAKE AMERICA SAFE AND GREAT again for everyone!” (over 13,000 retweets and 31,000 likes)

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The tone of Hillary Clinton’s top three tweets was decidedly different.

Clinton’s top three tweets as of 11 p.m. last night were:

--“This one’s for you, Hillary” (with a photo of Clinton’s mother Dorothy and the line “She ended up on on her own at 14, working as a housemaid.” (More than 16,000 retweets and 33,000 likes)
--“Florida in the rain” (with a photo of Hillary on a rainy stage and more than 5,000 retweets and 20,000 likes)
--“My son was Captain Humayun Khan … and he was a Muslim American. I want to ask Mr. Trump: Would my son have a place in your America?” (With a photo of Khan and more than 7,000 retweets and 16,000 likes)

Also within the last 24 hours, while a lot of Trump’s hashtags made the Top 10 -- like #DrainTheSwamp and #NeverHillary  -- the No. 1 hashtag was #ImwithHer. “One of the main reasons why the ImWithHer hashtag is No. 1 [right now] is celebrity endorsements,” said Todd Grossman, CEO of Talkwalker.

And the top three celebrities associated with #ImWithHer are Pharrell Williams, Jennifer Lopez, and Kris Jenner. Grossman noted a surge on the hashtag on Monday morning after LeBron James made an appearance for Clinton.

As of 4 p.m. ET on Monday, in the battleground state of Florida, 42% of people on social media in that state had used the NeverHillary hashtag within the past 24 hours; 52% had used the NeverTrump hashtag. Notably,  the activity around NeverHillary declined from 57% to 47% in the state of Florida over a 24-hr. period, according to Grossman. That drop might be attributed to FBI Director James Comey’s statements on Sunday that there were no new conclusions from the latest evaluation of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Talkwalker found the top themes associated with Clinton were email, women, justice, and corruption in the last 24 hours, as of 4 p.m. yesterday, while the top themes for Trump were women (not favorable), email, corrupt, and rigged.

“Trump has a lot of success on social media in the sense that he’s been very authentic at a time when social media profiles of politicians and public figures are very cautious. Trump breaks all the rules in social media,” Grossman said.

Talkwalker monitors more than 150 million Web sites in 187 languages across 196 countries. That’s scale. “We have access to the full Twitter firehose, we’re monitoring Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, Google + Reddit, and Pinterest,” Grossman said. The company does deep analysis on hashtags and the overall activity from topics it sets up. This is all done in real time with natural language processing with machine learning, and proprietary algorithms the company has set up.

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