How Did The Media Get It So Wrong?

Tom H. C. Anderson
December 2nd, 2016

And why your research may be just as inaccurate… (An OdinText Text Analytics PollTM )

[Missed ARF’s Post-Election Podcast? Watch the Free Video – Special Event Video Explores Election Poll Fail and Implications for Market Research]

I know many of you weren’t able to get into the ARF’s post-election podcast this week due to limited space, but now you can watch the video!

On Tuesday, I had the honor to participate along with a number of industry experts in a special ARF/Greenbook podcast event exploring why pollsters were unable to predict the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election and the implications for those of us working in marketing and research.

The ARF has now released a free recording of the event complete with presentations and the panel session here.


Receive My Deck: New Insights Included!

I’ve previously blogged about research we conducted right before the election that indicated the Clinton campaign was in more trouble from a positioning standpoint than anyone realized.

My presentation took a deeper dive into those data with some additional insights I haven’t covered before and also analyzed some of the key weaknesses in conventional polling that may have accounted for the dramatic differences between projections and actual voter behavior.

You can watch my presentation in the video, if you would also like a copy of the deck you can request it via this link (just type “please send me the Election Analysis” in the comment box).

I cannot emphasize enough that the reasons for the miscalculations we saw in the polls are not much different from those we routinely see in the commercial/consumer sphere. There are lessons to be learned for anyone whose job entails understanding and predicting consumer behavior.

I hope you’ll watch the video and let me know what you think.



Ps. To learn more about how OdinText can help you bridge the gap between research and actual in-market behavior, contact us for info or a free demo using your own data!


Tom H. C. Anderson

OdinText Inc.



OdinText is a patented SaaS (software-as-a-service) platform for advanced analytics. Fortune 500 companies such as Disney and Shell Oil use OdinText to mine insights from complex, unstructured text data. The technology is available through the venture-backed Stamford, CT firm of the same name founded by CEO Tom H. C. Anderson, a recognized authority and pioneer in the field of text analytics with more than two decades of experience in market research. Anderson is the recipient of numerous awards for innovation from industry associations such as ESOMAR, CASRO, the ARF and the American Marketing Association. He tweets under the handle @tomhcanderson.

5 thoughts on “How Did The Media Get It So Wrong?”

  1. Interesting, but you omitted polling bias – in other words, the polling organizations skewed questions to their biases, and saw what they wanted to see in their data, based on the media drumbeat (91% negative coverage of Trump).
    Also – there is a critical follow up question about each of the messaging topics: “How important is this to you?”
    For example – perhaps people did get the messaging (by Clinton camp) of “racism” directed towards Trump, but also it obviously wasn’t important or deemed credible – where as the Trump-directed messaging of lying, cheating and corruption directed at Clinton hit home more accurately (was deemed important).
    What was left out of your questions (and analysis) was the impact of the Clinton “deplorables” comment – which was directed at the white working class – probably helped a lot of the undecided to vote for Trump. It was the equivalent of Romney’s “47%” remark in 2012.
    The media and the polling organizations were so far off it can’t be explained just by analytical technique (or lack thereof) – they were corrupted by their own biases.
    The mainstream media meltdown beginning at 9PM Eastern on election night was memorable.

  2. @JProducer Thanks
    RE the follow up question, sure that could be asked and added into the analysis easily if you wanted to. But in fact we have found it quite unnecessary. The beauty about unaided top of mind verbatim responses is that people only mention what is most important to them. So that is exactly whatyou are seeing in this data, only what’s important, not the irrelevant noise captured in likert scale ratings etc.
    In my last chart I showed during the presentation we added response time too the text question, this is yet another way of weighting the importance, more visceral ergo important topics tend to be mentioned more quickly.
    “Deplorables” was not left out, it just wasn’t mentioned verbatim. It probably contributed to the contempt for Hillary though.

  3. Awesome analysis OdinText, It’s amazing how rich and telling analysis you can get from just one comment question! Thanks for challenging us to think beyond structured data again. Definitely want a copy of this, will be in touch.

  4. Good job, Tom. Raised a question for me – it looks like Clinton tried to be more individualized in her message, given the difference in perceptions by gender and where you live (urban, suburban, rural), while Trump had a single (or a couple of related) messages that everyone got. Does this argue against the notion of personalization in marketing?

  5. Thanks!
    @Steve, Yes I think we as market researchers tend to get a little too focused on segmentation, and forget that Positioning is King! What we see here is Trump really nailing his Elevator Pitch… He has succeeded in better communicating 2 good things about himself and one bad thing about the other brand, much better than Clinton has.

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