Trump’s Win Reveals Glaring Blind Spot in Social Media Analysis


The reality TV star has made it very real.

Republican Donald Trump, a divisive outsider who overcame even his own party’s distrust, took to a New York stage in the early hours of Wednesday to claim the presidency of the United States. His acceptance speech, delivered after he said he had spoken with Democrat rival Hillary Clinton, capped a race that at times seemed out of control and until minutes earlier had been expected to continue well into Wednesday.

“This was tough, this was tough,” Trump told the crowd as he extended an olive branch to Clinton and the Democrats. “This political stuff is nasty and it’s tough.”

He also struck a conciliatory note.

“For those who chose not to support me in the past, of which there are a few people, I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so we can reach out and unify our great country,” he said.

Trump’s acceptance, which came as the final votes were still being counted, followed a chief adviser to Clinton telling her supporters to go home early Wednesday.

Clinton finally gave her concession speech (with accompanying tweets) late Wednesday morning, saying that she hopes he will be successful and offering “to work with him on behalf of the country.”

Clinton’s comments begin the conclusion of an extraordinary presidential election that has played out on Twitter, Facebook and WikiLeaks. Polls widened and tightened based on leaks about the email server Clinton used when she was secretary of state.

Almost no one got it right.

Early counts on Tuesday suggested the election for the 45th president would be a blowout for Clinton. Now Trump appears to have taken many of the key swing states in a race that will go down as among the narrowest contests ever. The only aspect everyone agrees on is that it was a nasty campaign.

Key swing states Ohio and Florida chose Trump, the billionaire real estate developer and star of the long-running reality TV show “The Apprentice,” prompting the word “panic” to take off among Clinton supporters on Twitter. Clinton picked up Colorado. A handful of other battleground states remained in play.

Spredfast, a social media analytics firm, followed how people feel about the candidates throughout the day in seven swing states — New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Colorado. The experiment: Gauge how closely tweets tracked votes in the race to become the 45th president of the US.

The Austin, Texas-based company uses Twitter posts in each state that contain positive mentions of a candidate to quantify trends. Spredfast ignores accounts with fewer than 200 followers — they could be bots! — and those of verified political figures, who have obvious agendas.

Breaking down the tweets

Can social media at some point really tell us how an election may pan out? Spredfast isn’t the only one trying to figure that out. The California Institute of Technology unveiled a website Monday called Tweeting the Election that breaks down tweets by geography and the political background of the person tweeting. Caltech is looking at people’s takes on topics like Election Day voting, absentee ballots and voting places.

It’s an understatement to say social media helped set the tone of this historic election. Trump practically ran his campaign on Twitter, forcing rivals to respond to his 140-character attacks (that is, until his aides reportedly pulled the plug this week on unsupervised tweeting).

Click here to continue reading…