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Election 2016: Iowa According to Social Media

By Jordan Hanson  •  February 3, 2016


Election 2016: Iowa According to Social Media

Posted by: Jordan Hanson on February 3, 2016

Official election results are finally here. As with every presidential election since 1972, the race for the presidency begins in Iowa. Candidates from both major parties eagerly awaited the final declaration of Iowa tallies, marking the first event in a long series of results that will separate the losers from each party’s eventual nominee.

The data suggests social media intelligence tools provide similar results to more traditional election polling efforts, at a fraction of the time and cost.

Iowa's Big Winners

Waking up Tuesday morning, it was exciting to see Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton crowned victors for their respective parties across many press outlets. If I’m honest, though, it wasn’t at all a surprise for us here at Infegy.

We knew it was very unlikely for O’Malley to win against his Democratic rivals, for example, and the same held true for Carson, Paul, and Bush, on the Republican side. These charts represent the number of positive sentiment assertions that specifically mention voting for each candidate in the days leading up to and including the Iowa Caucus.






While there is some room for error, particularly with the lower-performing Republican candidates, on none of the 4 days sampled did they surpass any of the top three Republicans. Similarly, O’Malley never surpassed Sanders, even on his lowest day.

Then I started thinking: What happens if we compare just the top performing candidates on social? For the Democrats, this means Clinton and Sanders. For the Republicans, this means Cruz, Trump, and Rubio. The results are below.




Again, while there is some slight variance in the data, we can see the candidates’ respective Iowa ranking in order. Especially as the time moved closer to the actual caucus event, people seem to become firmer in their chosen candidate, which means predictive efforts become more concrete in turn.

While we weren’t able to forecast the exact percentage of the vote, we were capable of predicting the winners, both on the day before Iowa and the day the Iowa caucus took place. And, in case you’re curious about all the data, I’ve included the full tables at the bottom of this post for more information.

Up Next: New Hampshire, February 9

Iowa is the first indicator of how voters are responding to the candidates’ policies and proposals. After Iowa results are tallied, we usually see the first dropouts from the election race. Indeed, shortly after Iowa results looked like they were finalizing, Martin O’Malley and Mike Huckabee both suspended their campaigns.

The next primary event is in New Hampshire for both Democrats and Republicans on February 9. We’ll publish results again shortly thereafter, comparing them to how candidates fared in the social media primary.

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Data tables used in this post:





Topics: election


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