Research - 20.06.2016 - 00:00 

Tracking the campaign - The Clinton Trump Social Atmosphere Index

With the US presidential election heating up, the Institute for Customer Insight looks at social media traffic of their respective fan base.

20. June 2016. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump seem likely to be the nominees for the upcoming US presidential election in November 2016. This election campaign has already seen harsh attacks being exchanged between the nominees – the election campaigns of Trump und Clinton have evolved into one of the toughest competitions in the recent history of US presidential elections – and it is being largely fought on their social media channels.

To derive a more detailed understanding of the nominees’ appearance and fan base in social media channels we analyzed the Facebook traffic of Clinton (3.6m Facebook fans) and Trump (approximately 8m Facebook fans) for over 12 months. Facebook is currently the leading social media website in the US (Experian, 2016) and may provide relevant and representative information about the nominees’ supporters and fans.

1. The first figure shows the emotional atmosphere within the nominees’ communities. Specifically, the level of negative expressed emotions (relative to positive expressed emotions) varies considerably among Clinton and Trump. Whereas Trump’s community tends to be more positively engaged (positive comments: 69.46%; negative comments: 30.46%), Clinton’s community is relative more negatively engaged (positive comments: 65.94%; negative comments: 33.94%).

Negative Emotions Boller

However, the dispersion of emotions (controversy of comments), as shown in Figure 2, is much more notable in Trump’s community (coefficient of variation, as percent: Trump: 122.23 / Clinton: 115.31).


2. The third figure shows how optimistic the followers of the candidates express themselves. The data shows that Clinton’s fan base is slightly more optimistic (31.13%), than Trump’s fans base (29.57%), whereby there is a more positive development in Trump’s community. Again, the dispersion of optimistic comments is much more notable in Trump’s community (coefficient of variation, as percent: Trump: 130.12 / Clinton: 126.11).


3. Finally, the fourth figure shows the communities degree of self-centered style of expression, that is, if the communities write more in a more ‘inclusive’ (e.g., ‘we’) or ‘exclusive’ (e.g., (‘I) style. The style of expression shows significant differences between Clinton and Trump. Trump’s fans express themselves in a more ‘exclusive’ style (36.12%), whereas Clinton’s fans express themselves in a more ‘inclusive’ style (30.28%).


Data: We crawled the nominees’ public page Facebook data, starting May 01, 2015 until May 31, 2016 via R ‘Rfacebook’. Specifically, we request all posts and corresponding comments for the entire time period (Clinton: approx. 1.2m comments / Trump: approx. 1.4m comments). Following this, each comment was analyzed separately with respect to emotional and psychological constructs (the categories are based on the LIWC dictionary) with R ‘tm’ and ‘quanteda’. The analysis does not include non-English content. Finally, we aggregate the data (comments) on a daily basis. The data are part of a comprehensive research project. Data available upon request.

Daniel Boller is PhD student at the Institute for Customer Insight (University of St.Gallen). Andreas Herrmann is director at the Institute for Customer Insight (University of St.Gallen).

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