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2016 Election Wrap-up: What we learned from Dashboard Intelligence


As we mentioned in our last blog, polling numbers for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump became increasingly close leading up to Election Day. On November 8 the American people voted, and Mr. Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States.

Netvibes election dashboard

For the past several months, we’ve been analyzing news, social media, polling data and other information in Netvibes’ live 2016 Election Dashboard. Now that the race is over, we’re looking back at the data to see what Dashboard Intelligence can tell us about Election 2016.

Emails: Clinton’s Achilles heel

Throughout the 2016 race, we noted that candidate scandals, such as Clinton’s emails, were drawing more attention than traditional election issues, such as tax plans. This pattern intensified toward the end of the race, with multiple “October Surprise” scandals erupting in the final weeks. The shocking climax occurred on October 28 when, just 11 days prior to Election Day, FBI Director James Comey announced that new emails had been found related to Clinton’s private server investigation.

As we wrote in an October blog, the candidates’ various scandals did not seem to impact their favorability ratings over the long term. In the short term immediately following a breaking scandal, both Trump and Clinton saw dings to favorability and polling numbers, but these numbers tended to recover quickly once the scandal blew over. (Read the Netvibes blog for the full analysis). However, we also noticed that Clinton recovered from her scandals more slowly than Trump, and we wondered whether 11 days would be enough time for her to recover from the last-minute FBI bombshell.

It takes some time for events such as this to show up in the polls. When we look at the polling numbers for the brief 11 days before the election, it is difficult to tell whether Clinton’s poll numbers took a dive as a result of Comey’s announcement. What is clear, however, is that the race had greatly tightened by the end. On November 6, poll numbers were virtually tied with Clinton at 44.43% and Trump at 43.93%.

Trump vs Clinton polling data

Looking at the overall trend in scandals, we can see spikes in mentions when each scandal erupted. The single biggest spike was around Clinton’s health following the September 11 memorial service, but that scandal blew over quickly. Clinton’s emails, on the other hand, were a factor throughout the race and exploded larger than ever following the October 28 FBI announcement.

all-scandals-over-time

 

Undeniably, the email scandal hurt Clinton’s chances for the presidency. According to 2016 exit polls, 63% of voters said they were bothered “a lot” or “some” by Clinton’s private email issue. Among that group of voters, 70% voted for Trump versus 24% for Clinton.

Were the polls wrong?

It’s worth asking if the polls were plain wrong in 2016. After all, Dashboard Intelligence can only be as good as the data that you put in. As late as Election Day, the poll aggregators at 538 gave Clinton a 71.4% chance of winning. Reuters gave Clinton a 90% chance of victory. Of course, we know how that turned out.

But when we look at the numbers, the polls actually weren’t that far off. At the end, the candidates were virtually tied in the national polls with Clinton at 44.43% and Trump at 43.93%. Although ballots are still being counted, it appears that Clinton won the popular vote by 1.5 percentage points: Clinton 48% versus Trump 46.6%. Trump, however, won the Electoral College vote and the presidency.

Top issues (Jun-Nov): Foreign policy and immigration

Although they attracted fewer mentions than candidate scandals, election issues were an important part of the 2016 conversation as well. For the last 5 months of the race, the most-popular issues discussed were:

  1. Foreign policy (8.11%)
  2. Immigration (6.09%)
  3. Tax plans (4.69%)
  4. Healthcare (3.19%)

But as we can see, the scandals dominated over the issues, especially Clinton’s email scandal that reached 44.2% of share of voice. Trump’s biggest scandal, sexual assault allegations, was mentioned in 12.92% of articles and posts.

Candidate scandal mentions

 

Top issues (Oct-Nov): Foreign policy and healthcare

When we look at just the final month of the race (Oct. 8 – Nov. 8), we see that scandals take up an even greater percentage of the overall conversation. In the final month, scandals account for a whopping 84.23% of share of voice, dominated by Clinton’s emails at 53.6% and Trump’s assaults at 24.73%. The most popular election issues discussed in the last month were:

  1. Foreign policy (4.58%)
  2. Healthcare (4.15%)
  3. Tax plans (2.88%)
  4. Climate change (1.65%)

Scandals vs issues - Election 2016

 

Conservative vs. Liberal vs. Nonpartisan media

When we analyze media coverage by different types of publications (see our dashboard sources here), we notice some interesting trends. Partisan media (including both liberal-leaning and conservative-leaning outlets) wrote more often about scandals (versus issues) by a nearly 5:1 margin. While nonpartisan media also wrote more about the scandals than issues, the margin was much closer, with roughly 2.5 scandal articles for every 1 article on the issues.

Partisan vs Nonpartisan media on scandals vs issues

 

It appears that conservative media was more partisan than liberal media. Looking at overall share of voice, conservative outlets published nearly twice as many pro- and anti-candidate articles as liberal publications. However, the conservatives were much better at focusing on the positives of their candidate. Pro-Trump articles from the right were by far the most common type published, while pro-Clinton articles from the left were relatively rare.

Partisan media share-of-voice:

  • Conservative pro-Trump (46.65%)
  • Conservative anti-Clinton (22.2%)
  • Liberal anti-Trump (20.22%)
  • Liberal pro-Clinton (10.93%)

Sentiment analysis: liberal vs conservative media

 

The 2016 U.S. Election is now over, but there’s always more to learn from Dashboard Intelligence. For analysis on the 2017 French election, check out Netvibes’ live dashboard and blog (in French). We will also combine data from the U.S. Election, UK’s Brexit, and other European elections to analyze global trends that may help us predict future election results. Stay tuned.

Want a demo of Netvibes dashboards? Contact us.

 

Disclaimers

Written by Kim Terca and Garrett Flanagan of Netvibes. Any opinions expressed are our own, not our 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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