Big Data

Social polls: Big data reveals top social media takeaways from the #RNC and #DNC

Both candidates saw convention bumps, but what does that really tell us? Social media trends from the #RNC and #DNC offer more incisive and nuanced insights than polling data alone.

celebritysocialmediamentionsrncdnc16.png

Celebrity social media mentions. Image: Sysomos

The RNC and DNC serve as massive advertisements for each political party and are intended to dovetail emotion with party and brand identity. Though the 2016 general election is sure to be as contentious and unpredictable as the primary process, polling numbers suggest the conventions were, if nothing else, incredibly average.

READ: The top Twitter moments from Hillary Clinton's historic night (CBS News)

All polls are fleeting, and post-convention polls are particularly ephemeral. 2016 was no exception. According to polling firm Morning Consult, Clinton held and retained a slight lead prior to and through the conventions. After the conventions, in a head-to-head matchup Clinton and Trump are neck and neck:

  • 43% Clinton
  • 40% Trump
  • 17% Undecided

Each convention was successful at branding the candidate and amplifying the party's message, and neither convention significantly damaged the opposition. After the RNC, Trump experienced a 4 point bump, and Clinton jumped 7 points after her convention. As the general election begins in earnest, Clinton retains a narrow 3 point lead over Trump.

SEE: Seven ways to build brand awareness into your digital strategy (Tech Pro Research report)

Social media data analysis can augment polling data and provide more nuanced insight about election trends and voter sentiment during and after major events like the #RNC and #DNC. Data firm Sysomos analyzed Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks during the RNC and DNC. Here's what it found:

The DNC had a larger social media reach during the conventions than the RNC:

  • RNC: 2.2 million
  • DNC: 2.9 million

Republican nominee Mike Pence received more social media mentions than Democratic nominee Tim Kaine:

  • Mike Pence 266K mentions
  • Tim Kaine 103K (Note that there were more than 17.7K mentions of "Kaine" AND "who.")

Ted Cruz and Melania Trump each grabbed more mentions than the vice presidential nominees combined:

  • Ted Cruz 772K mentions
  • Melania Trump 670K mentions
candidatesocialmediamentionsrncdnc16.png

Candidate social media mentions. Image: Sysomos

Celebrities were influential during both conventions:

  • Stephen Colbert: 93.4K mentions during the RNC
  • Jon Stewart: 21.7K mentions during the RNC
  • Sarah Silverman: 116.2K mentions during DNC
  • Lena Dunham: 35,487 mentions during DNC
  • Meryl Streep: 54,581 mentions at DNC

Michelle Obama was also popular during both conventions:

  • 1.9 million mentions during the DNC and 1.9 million mentions during the RNC

Trump trounced the social media competition:

  • Trump: 8.8 million mentions
  • Obama: 1.9 million mentions
  • Clinton: 1.2 million mentions
vpsocialmediamentionsrncdnc16.png

Vice presidential candidate social media mentions. Image: Sysomos

Speeches:

  • In real-time, during speeches the Sysomos social media analytics system observed large spikes in candidate social media activity.
  • The states most active on social media were New York and California.

Tweets per hour:

  • DNC: 36,447
  • RNC: 15,111

Gender split:

  • DNC: 59% men, 41% women
  • RNC: 61% men, 39% women

Trending topics:

DNC

  • Wasserman
  • Wikileaks
  • Obama
  • Sanders

RNC

  • Melania
  • Acceptance
  • White
  • Ivanka

Key moments:

During Ted Cruz's speech at the RNC, more people mentioned Make America Great:

  • Make America Great Again: 104.9K mentions; 498M impressions
  • Vote Your Conscience: 98.8K mentions; 278M impressions

The Clinton campaign is still struggling to find a memorable tagline:

  • United Together: 4,240 mentions
  • Strong Together: 927 mentions

Clinton as the first female presidential nominee of a major political party is popular:

  • 82,715 mentions during DNC alone
  • Melania
  • Acceptance
  • White
  • Ivanka
trumpwordcloudsocialmediamentionsrncdnc16.jpg

RNC social media word cloud. Image: Sysomos

Sentiment:

  • DNC: 25% negative, 49% neutral, 26% positive
  • RNC: 22% negative, 47% neutral, 31% positive
hillaryclintonwordcloudsocialmediamentionsrncdnc16.jpg

DNC social media word cloud. Image: Sysomos

The top hashtags during the RNC and DNC were:

  • #rncincle (during RNC): 5.4 M mentions
  • #demsinphilly (during DNC): 5.5M mentions
  • #FeeltheBern (during DNC): 213,841 mentions
  • #nevertrump (during RNC): 72,762 mentions
  • #neverhillary (during DNC): 276,754 mentions
  • #TheRealOne (during DNC): 4,506 mentions

Sophisticated big data tools that changed the 2012 election by allowing campaigns to model elections and adjust microtargeting and get out the vote tactics are today refined and ubiquitous.

SEE: Get ready for big data's wild ride (Tech Pro Research story)

Over the course of the campaign, we will continue to perform simple analysis on social media data. We hope to uncover unique insights and find ways business can benefit from campaign innovations.

If you're an egghead, data scientist, social media professional, or inquisitive TechRepublic reader we'd love your ideas on how to inspect campaign social media data. Please leave a comment below or ping us on Twitter @TechRepublic.

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About Dan Patterson

Dan is a Senior Writer for TechRepublic. He covers cybersecurity and the intersection of technology, politics and government.

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