Home – Monitoring Trends: What The 2016 Presidential Primaries Teach Us

Monitoring Trends: What The 2016 Presidential Primaries Teach Us

Posted on 03-18-2016 by Megan Burnside

This primary season is turning out to be a game changer for everyone involved, including the candidates, the voters and the media.  From candidates that were first considered true political outliers—like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders—gaining traction to high voter turnouts in nearly every state, the current election is taking center stage and giving us smart reminders about consumer behavior, the impact of social media and to never take anything for granted. 

Social Media Proves to be a Powerful Tool in Shaping Public Opinion

Up until this point in the election conversation, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have enjoyed commanding leads in the share of voice battle.  In fact, there has been public outcry that Sanders and other candidates like John Kasich were being ignored by mainstream media. 

However, the national discussion is ever changing, and now, Bernie Sanders is starting to take the lead over Clinton, both in share of voice and donations. Which begs the question:  how can a candidate seen as a political outlier, with less mainstream media exposure, receive millions in online donations (that are in very small contribution amounts compared to other candidates) and gain traction on the share of voice of the assumed Democratic nominee?

Social Media. It’s certainly not the only factor, but it’s a critical one.

Social media is playing an important and influential role in who is getting noticed and owning the conversation. Sanders has specifically leveraged the power of social to his advantage. He’s leveraging his younger base; Bernie supporters are tweeting, sharing, posting and reacting in record numbers. To keep the top spot in share of voice, it’s important to stay relevant and engage your supporters. It’s the magic combination of media and consumer coverage that ultimately wins the share of voice war.

The US Election Goes Global

Just as this primary season is garnering more media coverage in the US and bringing voters to the polls in higher numbers than ever before, it’s also receiving international coverage. Focused on understanding the impact of the election on the global community, key regions of the world are becoming keenly interested in the future of the US presidential race. While some would argue the increased interest is due to issues like climate change and foreign policy, others speculate that it’s all about the unexpected and unusual candidate landscape.

The majority of the coverage still comes from our own media outlets, with North America topping the charts at 79.3 percent.  How do other regions of the world stack up?

  • Europe: 12.3 percent
  • Asia 3.0 percent
  • Oceania 2.8 percent
  • South American 1.4 percent
  • Africa 1.1 percent

This important expansion in coverage reminds us of one critical rule of marketing:  never assume your audience won’t change and expand over time.  Because it will.

Michigan Feels the “Bern” Despite Polling Data

Despite Hillary Clinton’s commanding lead in the polls, Bernie Sanders won the Michigan primary to the nation’s surprise.  Nate Silver, election analyst and special correspondent for ABC News, described his win as “among the greatest polling errors in primary history.”

According to Politico, Sanders won 30 percent of African American votes, which is his best percentage to date.  Additionally, 58 percent of Michigan voters cited that “trade takes away US jobs”, meaning that Sanders' free trade deal messaging definitely worked to his advantage. 

This quickly turning tide illustrates the importance of relying on more than what the data tells you. It’s also the human connection to the issues that plays a role, and that can turn a deficit into a victory.

Connecting the Dots

How do today’s election trends relate to you?

1.  Companies need to be focused on more than coverage and dive deeper into content. While you may be winning the share of voice battle, it may not translate into real success unless you have the relevancy to truly connect with your target customers.

2.  Ask yourself if you are truly global in your outlook and reach.  Ensuring that your campaigns focus on the right geographies to get the engagement you need is part of any successful marketing campaign.

3.  Leverage all you know about your consumer to succeed. Don’t just rely on demographic information to make choices.  Dive deeper into attitudinal behaviors and the issues that matter most to really connect with the people you value. 

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Explore more media analysis of the election season on our U.S. Presidential Campaign Tracker.
  2. Register for a free trial of LexisNexis Newsdesk™ to experience the power of media monitoring for yourself.
  3. Share this blog on LinkedIn to keep the dialogue going with your colleagues and contacts. 

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