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2016 election issues: How terrorism and immigration impact the race

The year 2016 has been plagued by near-daily terrorist attacks around the world. Last weekend Americans were targeted in two attacks: nine people were stabbed at a shopping mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, while several explosive devices were discovered in New York and New Jersey. Fortunately, no one was killed.

To analyze how terrorism is impacting the U.S. Presidential race, we took a look at the data in Netvibes’ 2016 Election Dashboard:

Netvibes election dashboard


Where terrorism is mentioned: North America and the Middle East

With the Netvibes dashboard, we can create maps to see where conversations are taking place. From a worldwide view, looking at the past 30 days, we can see that terrorism is mentioned most often around North America and the Middle East. Because this particular dashboard is set up to monitor the presidential race in the United States (learn more about the sources we’re analyzing here), it makes sense that North America would have many mentions. However, statistically Middle Eastern countries are most at risk for terrorist attacks, and we see that reflected in this chart as well.

Election dashboard - terrorism mentions

Within North America, terrorism is mentioned most often in New York, Orlando and the United States in general

From this map, we can see that over the past 30 days, most Terrorism mentions involve the United States in general (9.39k). New York/New Jersey follow closely behind in second place with 6.86k, driven up this week by the latest foiled attacks. Florida still remains high, in third place with 3.26k mentions, as articles continue to mention the June 12 Orlando nightclub shooting.

Election dashboard - terrorism mentions

No apparent link between Immigration and Terrorism

Because Donald Trump often links immigration with terrorism in his speeches, we wondered if we could find a similar pattern in the data. When terrorists strike, do people talk more about immigration? The answer seems to be no. In this chart, we see there is no correlation between the datasets. The spikes in Terrorism mentions mostly occur in response to attacks, such as July 14 (Nice, France) and September 19 (St. Cloud, Minnesota and New York/New Jersey). There was also a jump in Terrorism mentions on August 15 when Trump spoke about his terrorism plan. The jump in Immigration mentions can be attributed to Donald Trump’s immigation policy speech on August 25.

Election dashboard - immigration vs terrorism mentions

Immigration has become a top campaign issue

Immigration has become the focus of the Trump campaign since Steve Bannon of Breitbart took over on August 17. In this chart, we can see how mentions have increased in the weeks since.

Netvibes Election dashboard - top issues

Immigration sentiment

On August 25, Trump released his immigration policy, which is more moderate than expected and looks very similar to Jeb Bush’s plan. When we look at news and social sentiment on that day, we see that the initial reaction was largely neutral. Overall sentiment was 82% neutral, 12% positive and 6% negative.

Election dashboard - immigration sentiment

However, on September 1, the day of Trump’s immigration speech and visit to Mexico, we see the immigration conversation became far more polarized, showing 71% neutral, 19% positive and 10% negative.

Election dashboard - immigration sentiment

Clinton isn’t shying away from Immigration, either

Mr. Trump is clearly eager to talk about immigration, but he’s not the only candidate talking about it. This chart shows the top Twitter influencers around Immigration. Hillary Clinton has the third-most mentions, indicating that she would be happy to engage in a debate with Trump on this topic.

Election dashboard - immigration top commenters

You can explore the data for yourself on our 2016 live Election Dashboard. Keep following the blog for more weekly insights leading up to November’s election. You can also sign up for our weekly newsletter here:

Is there an election issue you’d like us to explore? Leave a comment below.



Written by Kim Terca of Netvibes. Any opinions expressed are my own, not my employer’s.

Analytics are based on a wide variety of online sources collected by the Netvibes dashboard, including news publications, blogs, videos and social media. To see all sources, please visit the Dashboard Tab titled “Sources.” Candidate polling data is sourced from The Huffington Post.

Netvibes’ Election dashboard is meant to provide a neutral analysis of available election data. It should not be considered an official statement by Netvibes, Inc. or Dassault Systèmes.

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