I stayed up late last night watching the Democratic debate on CNN. Full transparency; I’m a big fan of Bernie Sanders. But very early in the campaign process I wanted to look at the objective data to see if social sentiment and other social indicators could predict the next president. There are several sites that simply aggregate polls to make prediction. These polls such as the Suffolk and Quinneppiac poll are typically culled from a bank of 500-1500 phone calls. The data I looked at comes, using a variety of online listening tools and APIs, from Twitter, public Facebook posts, blogs, Tumblr, new website comments. The tools show a variety of data points:
Twitter follower acquisition – how many followers they have or gain.
Twitter engagement – how relevant Twitter posts are to followers, determined by retweeting.
Potential Human Reach™ – the total number of people candidates’ Twitter account can reach.
Mention volume – how often people are mentioning the candidate.
Passion Index – how passionate the comments about the candidate are. Do they just not like them or do they hate them.
Social Sentiment – how a candidate is viewed; positively or negatively.
I’ve been keeping track of this information on a Tumblr blog called The Social Election. I’ve been posting numbers, charts, graphs, occasional news items related specifically to data such as the determination that millions of Clinton and Trump Twitter followers are robot accounts. The data has shown some very interesting information. But something else jumped out at me last night.
I’ve known that Big Media, the CNN’s and Washington Posts of the world, prefer newsmakers to news for awhile. After all, the bigger the story, true or not, the more they can sell advertising for. What I didn’t realize was how far away from the facts they’d stray to push their own agenda. Perhaps they still don’t understand the power of the Internet, perhaps they live in a bubble, perhaps they don’t realize how much data we have access too.
What makes this interesting is how out of touch with the opinions of voters this is. Here, from CNN’s own focus group:
CNN focus group says Bernie Sanders won the debate
Of course those crazy kids on Facebook love Bernie too:
And here are screenshots from public polls that CNN ran during the debate. On the economy, foreign policy and the overall debate, viewers chose Bernie Sanders as the winner by a HUGE margin. I took these screenshots with my phone lest they disappear. The overall debate winning poll is still live here.
In fact, CNN wasn’t the only news organization with a similar opinion that conflicted with voters:
Slate gave the debate win to Clinton…
Overseas, The Telegraph’s 7 political pundits handed the debate win to Hillary Clinton. Their readers also had a difference of opinion:
Time readers also gave the win to Sanders…
While Time itself gave the win, at least on the economy, to Clinton.
FOX News, that bastion of fact-checking, gave Clinton the win…
…even though their poll, of course, gave the win to Sanders.
Even local news channels polls showed Sanders won:
So, despite overwhelming poll numbers, social sentiment that looks like the chart below, how can Big Media get it so wrong? Are they living in a bubble? Is it driven by their corporate agenda? Are they judging by some standard unknown to voters? Are they merely reporting what their advertisers want them to? Whatever your party affiliation and no matter which candidate you back, you should be disgusted to know that the “journalists” you turn to for informed opinions and facts are completely out of touch with the American people.