The media has had an outsized impact on the whims of voters this election cycle. But often, it’s social media and other online activity that drives the 24-hour news cycle. Conversations that start with the online pundits, quickly become the leading narrative of the day, which in turn, drive…
The media has had an outsized impact on the whims of voters this election cycle. But often, it’s social media and other online activity that drives the 24-hour news cycle. Conversations that start with the online pundits, quickly become the leading narrative of the day, which in turn, drive the rise of candidates like—you guessed it—Donald Trump.
Which is why today The Associated Press is launching a new partnership with Twitter and Google, which aims to visualize all this online chatter. Called AP Election Buzz, the new tool shows how Google search interest in and Twitter discussion of presidential candidates and election issues change overtime.
— AP Interactive (@AP_Interactive) March 1, 2016
You can drill down to view the past 24 hours, the past week, the past month, or everything since August 1, 2015, to see how major events like debates, caucuses, and endorsements have changed public interest in the election. Meanwhile, the tool shows the top election issues being searched on Google and discussed on Twitter over the past 24 hours.
The data is telling. Donald Trump, as you might expect, has persistently topped the list of searches and Twitter conversation throughout this election cycle. But while online activity can be a kind of short hand for electoral interest, it shouldn’t be construed as a poll.
Social media has given us all kinds of wacky results throughout this election season. The day of the Iowa Caucus, Facebook reported that 42.2 percent of caucus conversation was about Bernie Sanders, while just 12.4 percent was about Hillary Clinton. As we now know, that race ended in a narrow victory for Clinton that nearly ended in a tie.
Twitter conversation, it so happens, predicted Iowa right, but even the Election Buzz tool reflects discrepancies between what people are searching on Google and what they’re talking about on Twitter. Over the last 24 hours, health care has been the most searched election issue on Google, while Twitter has seen energy and the environment taking up the bulk of the conversation.
All this online activity may not predict what will happen at the polls today, but it does give us a previously unseen window into the types of issues Americans care about most.
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