Normally, at this point in the American Presidential campaign cycle, not too many people are paying attention. Often called “the shadow primary,” these months before the first primary contests are where candidates battle for media attention and fundraising more so than locking in people’s votes. However, with both the Republican and Democratic primary debates pulling in “huge” ratings numbers, it seems that more people than ever are paying attention.
Still, America loves a winner, and whether it’s an election or a debate, the first question is always “Who won?” The general consensus of pundits and partisans is that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the debate (if only by “not losing”). Yet, others are saying that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders handily won the evening. Of course when it comes to politics the truth is always elusive and tricky to nail down, and ultimately comes down to a person’s best guess.
Well the “best guess” is an educated guess, so let’s look at the data. At the time of this writing, there aren’t any opinion polls out right now. So it’s up to sentiment analysis to give the news media and the campaigns themselves the best idea of who “won” the debate in the eyes of the people.
One of our partners, Brandwatch, did some analysis for The Wall Street Journal using our Salience technology to see who and what people were talking about. If we were to go by the data alone, Sen. Sanders clearly won the night. He was mentioned 407,000 times on social media, more times than all of his fellow candidates combined.
However, his campaign promoted him pretty heavily on Twitter that night, and Senator Sanders’s social media team has really found a way maximize his presence online. Even still, he won the night in new Twitter followers, more than 42,000 people followed him compared with 25,000 for Secretary Clinton. Yet on Facebook, whose user base skews older than Twitter, Hillary Clinton gained three times more new followers than Bernie Sanders.
Clarabridge also produced similar findings, showing that systems aren’t giving widely varying results. The thing about data is that while the results aren’t debatable, what they mean often is. We have the data for what people were talking about the night of debate, but what are they really saying? That’s why, for all the amazing things Salience can do and how well it tells us what’s on people’s minds, we are constantly innovating to break new ground in sentiment analysis.
What does the data tell you? Sound off with your ideas and opinions in the comment section below or tweet to us at @Lexalytics!