Back to my page


October Surprise Extravaganza: How scandals are impacting #Election2016

The past month has been full of “October Surprises” for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. To recap: On October 7, Trump’s infamous “locker room talk” tape was released. On October 12, several women began coming forward to accuse Trump of sexual assault. Beginning on October 7 and continuing each morning since then, Wikileaks has been publishing damaging email dumps hacked from John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman. Then, on October 28 came the biggest surprise yet: the FBI has discovered new emails that may impact its probe into Clinton’s email scandal.

With just one week remaining until votes are counted on November 8, we are analyzing the data in our 2016 Election Dashboard to see how the race is shifting in the final days. Read our insights below, or check out the data for yourself using Netvibes’ live dashboard:

Election dashboard

Scandals versus Election Issues

Throughout the 2016 U.S. presidential race, we’ve noted that multiple candidate scandals have largely overshadowed traditional election issues, such as tax plans and healthcare, across news stories and social media. The scandal trend shows no signs of slowing down in the final week of the race.

How are scandals impacting the race? (Since May)

We have discovered two very different patterns, depending on whether you are looking at the race long-term over the past several months or analyzing just the October data. First, let’s look at the long-term trends.

Favorability ratings

When we look at the long-term trajectory of the data, we can see that various scandals have dinged candidate polling numbers, with numbers then bouncing back as the scandal ages. Over the past few months, the larger trend shows that Clinton’s Favorability ratings are slowly increasing (+0.08%), while Trump’s are slowly decreasing (-0.19%). Peaks in scandals are followed by a temporary dampening in favorability, but they don’t seem to affect the overall trajectory of each candidate’s favorability. For example, when FBI director Comey testified about Clinton’s emails in July, Clinton then had her three lowest weeks of weekly favorability averages. She later rebounded and the overall trend continues upward.

Clinton favorability vs scandals

Trump favorability vs scandals


Polling numbers

Looking at the race over the past few months, both candidates’ poll numbers have been increasing in both 2-way (Clinton +0.27%, Trump +0.22%) and 4-way races (Clinton +0.53%, Trump +0.33%). Neither long-term trajectory has been affected by the scandals to date. For example, looking at Clinton’s numbers:

  • September: When we look back at Clinton’s health scare from September, that scandal seemed to have no effect on polls or favorability.
  • July: When Comey recommended no criminal charges around the email scandal in July, it was followed by Clinton’s lowest weekly polling average in a two-way race. Her numbers in a 4-way race at the time weren’t affected. Then what happened to Clinton’s polling the week after? In a 4-way race her polls stayed the same, then fell a little more than a point the week after. In a 2-way race she rebounded by a point and a half and fell by about a point the following week.

Clinton 2-way poll vs. scandals

Clinton 4-way polls vs. scandals


However, the October 28 FBI announcement was made just 11 days before the election. Will Clinton’s numbers bounce back in time for November 8?

Interestingly, Trump seems to have a quicker recovery time from his scandals than Clinton. There is a dip in both polls and favorability during the week of his scandal, but it’s followed by an increase in the polls the following week.

Trump 2-way polls vs. scandals

Trump 4-way polls vs. scandals


How are scandals impacting the race? (October only)

As we stated above, the larger trend over several months shows that Clinton’s Favorability ratings are slowly increasing (+0.08%), while Trump’s are slowly decreasing (-0.19%). Both candidates’ polling numbers are increasing overall, with Clinton’s numbers showing slightly more growth (in a 2-way race, Clinton +0.27% and Trump +0.22%; in a 4-way race, Clinton +0.53% and Trump +0.33%).

However, when you analyze Polls and Favorability for JUST OCTOBER, this trend reverses: Trump’s favorability is increasing over the past month (+0.08%) while Clinton’s is dropping (-0.13%).

Clinton favorability vs scandals October 2016

Trump favorability vs scandals October 2016


Polls are trending upward for both candidates in October, but Trump’s polls are rising much faster, with Trump +0.34% and Clinton +0.02% in a 4-way race. In the 2-way polling for October, Trump is up +0.20% versus Clinton’s +0.07%.

Trump 4-way polls vs scandals October 2016

Clinton 4-way polls vs scandals Oct 2016


With just a week remaining until the November 8 election, the race is looking increasingly close. We’ll keep analyzing the data on the Election Dashboard:  Stay tuned for more insights from the blog.

Want a demo of Netvibes dashboards? Contact us.



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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *