By Todd Murphy | August 1st, 2016
The Republican National Convention vs. The Democratic National Convention
Universal Information Services has been monitoring and analyzing all the domestic media coverage during the political conventions of 2016. What our teams have found are some distinct differences between how each party was reflected through the traditional and social media conversation, as well as some unexpected similarities. Below I’ve outlined some of the highlights from our analysis of the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention. For those who participated or viewed either convention, you’ll understand when I say both parties provided plenty of fodder for the media to chew.
Why is this Convention analysis important?
It has often been said that perception is reality. That saying is never more true than when it comes to how the media consuming public internalizes what traditional and social media projects. In simple terms, the average American, which includes the vast majority of voters, now believes that what they see on Facebook, read in the newspapers, and see or hear on radio and television is true. If it is posted or said, then it must be relatively true. This is an unfortunate outcome of the overload of information we receive (we’ll leave this topic for another post).
Traditional media still controls the side of the spectrum that skews towards factual content, but even that is eroding as the traditional media fragments into partisan programming in order to attract a specific demographic. On the other side of factual content is blog posts and comments posted to Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. Although social media has democratized the platform for people to report, much of what we see in social media is only emotional feelings or reactions. These posts are often without fact or merit, or may merely be a repeated meme designed to disparage one party over the other. Therefore, our media analysis team takes the time and effort to help organizations distill the true meaning and impact of media on the public.
From all that was presented in the media, what does this truly mean in terms of behavior?
That is the $100,000 question, or in today’s dollars maybe the $100 billion dollar question. Voter behavior is influenced most by the opinions of our friends and family. When we see them post something to Facebook, or even share a post from someone else, there’s an implied endorsement because that information is coming from a person you know. Much of what is posted or shared is content coming from traditional media outlets, but outlets that have a political slant. Nonetheless, wherever the story comes from it has influence on our voting behavior. If you exclude those voters who will blindly pull the lever for one party or the other, regardless of the candidate, the rest of the voter pool is susceptible to influence. This is why the media is so important. Influence me in your direction and I’ll vote for your candidate.
Enough typing, Todd, get to the data!
I understand this is what you’re thinking if you’ve made it this far. So here are a few of the charts we distilled from nearly 350,000 media mentions across TV, radio, print, web, and social media content. We looked at each convention’s mentions from the Sunday before they began through the Friday after they ended. Each search was identical in that it tracked only stories that mentioned the Republican National Convention or Democratic National Convention as the focus of the story.
The major differences between the RNC and DNC convention topics mentioned by the media are outlined below.
- 20.02% of the RNC articles focused on the “society” topic, versus 16.46% of the DNC stories. “Society” ranked 2nd for the RNC and 3rd for the DNC.
- The host cities had differing success in promoting their messages with Philadelphia earning 9,919 mentions compared to Cleveland’s 5,472 mentions.
- Maybe the most interesting difference is the absence of articles related to “Russia” on the RNC pie chart, whereas “Russia” was the 5th most mentioned topic category on the DNC pie chart.
How about the Top 10 People mentioned by the media at each convention?
The obvious people garnered the majority of mentions at each party’s convention, but there are still a couple of interesting personalities found on each chart.
- Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders was the person mentioned second most often in the DNC media mentions, and the only opposition mentioned in the top 10 for the DNC.
- The media mentioned four republican candidates out of the top 10 people mentioned. This is no surprise as the field of Republicans was much larger. It is worth noting that While Sanders was 2nd most mentioned for the Democrats, Ted Cruz trailed behind Hillary Clinton (2nd) and Mike Pence (3rd) on the RNC Top 10.
- Melania Trump gave the media more to talk about relative to Bill Clinton. Melania was 5th on the RNC chart while Bill only ranked 7th.
- When we looked at how engaging the Vice Presidents were for the period analyzed, Pence and Kaine were nearly equal, ranking 3rd and 4th respectively. Both achieved over 45,000 mentions for their weeks analyzed.
So what will November bring?
That’s a great question. The one thing we all know, but some may not want to discuss, is that this has been the most unique presidential election cycle of the last 40 years or more. While Donald Trump seems to be gaining points in opinion polls, even Republican analysts appear pessimistic about his chances of winning. In a quote from New York Times’ writers ALEXANDER BURNS and MAGGIE HABERMAN, “It now looks exceedingly difficult for him [Trump] to assemble even the barest Electoral College majority without beating Hillary Clinton in a trifecta of the biggest swing states: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.”
There’s also the possibility of a spoiler for Hillary Clinton. This spoiler could come in the form of Gary Johnson. The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board recently interviewed this 3rd Party Candidate and outlined a scenario where Johnson could siphon away enough votes to give a win to Trump.
Tell us what you’re seeing in the media, or if you even care about this election cycle.