Posts tagged Text Analytics Polling
Trump’s Brand Positioning One Year In

State of The POTUS - Text Analytics Reveals the Reasons Behind Trumps Approval Ratings

Over the past few weeks we’ve heard political pundits on all major news networks chime in on how Trump is doing one year after taking office. Part of the discussion is around what he has and hasn’t done, but an even bigger part continues to be about how he is perceived, both domestically and abroad, and some very grim opinion/approval polling is available. Many polls  have Trump as the President with the lowest approval ratings in history.

Sadly, Political Polling, including approval ratings, tells us absolutely nothing about the underlying causes for the ratings. Therefore, I thought I’d share our findings in this area. Utilizing our text analytics software, OdinText, we have been tracking not just sentiment related to Trump, but more importantly, the positioning of 40+ topics/themes that are important predictors of the sentiment.. In the brief analysis below, I will not have time to go into each of the attributes we have identified as important drivers, I will focus on a few of the areas which have seen the most change for Trump during the past year.

How has the opinion of Trump changed in the minds of the American people?

By looking at Trump’s positioning just before he took office (with all the campaign positioning fresh in the minds of the people), and comparing it to half a year into his office, and again now a full year into office, we can get a good idea about the impact various issues have on approval ratings and even more importantly, positioning.

Let’s start by looking back to just before he was elected. OdinText’s Ai uncovered the 15 most significant changes in perception since just before Trump won the election and now. Trump has fallen on 11 of these attributes and increased on 4.

Trump Pre Election Positioning VS One Year In

Tromp-Then-VS-Now.jpg

If we compare Trump just before the election VS Trump today, we several key differences. More recently four themes have become more important in terms of describing what Trump stands for in the minds of Americans when we include everyone (both those who like and dislike him). These newer positions are “Less Regulation”, “Healthcare Reform”, “Money/Greed”, and “Dishonesty”. Interestingly, text analytics reveals that one of the important issues seems to be changing, Trumps supporters are now more likely to be use the term “Healthcare Reform” rather than the previous “Repeal Obamacare”.

Other than the repeal of Obamacare issue, prior to the election, in the minds of Americans Trump was more likely to be associated with “Gun Rights”, “Honesty”, “Trade Deals”, “Change”, Supporting “Pro Life”, pro and con “Immigration” related issues including “The Wall”, and finally his slogan “MAGA” (Make America Great Again).

The decrease in relevance of many of these issues has to do with pre-election positioning, both by the Trump/Republican Party, as well as the Democrats Counter Positioning of him. After the election seemingly, some of these like ‘Gun Control’ have become less important for various reasons.

Five Months from Record Low

If we look at changes between this past Summer and now, there has been significantly less movement in terms of his positioning in American minds. He has seen a slight but significant bump in overall positive emotional sentiment/Joy, and the MAGA positioning as well as on Taxes, the economy, and The Wall, while also seeing a decrease in “Anger” and “Hate/Racism” which peaked this summer.

Trump-OdinText.jpg

His lowest point so far in the minds of Americans was during the August 12th, 2017 White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville. Trump’s positioning as a Hate Monger was almost as high as the weekend before the election, while simultaneously positive emotional sentiment and ‘MAGA’ among his supporters was at an all time low.

Since the August low Trump does appear to have rebounded some, and while one year into office many believe the one thing Trump now stands for is himself, greed and money are a lesser evil in America than hate and racism.

It seems that one year into office, at least for now, the economy and tax cuts are giving Trump a bit of a bump back to pre-election levels in the minds of many Americans.

I’m not sure what the future holds in this case, but I hope you like me found some of the underlying reasons for his approval ratings of interest. These are after all more important than simple ratings, because these reasons are levers that can be changed to affect the final outcomes and positioning of any brand, including that of a POTUS.

@TomHCAnderson

[Note: Curious if OdinText’s new Ai can help you understand what drives your brands ratings? Request more info or early access to our brand new release here]

What’s Really Wrong with Polling

What Can Researchers Learn From Yet Another Major Polling Fail (Text Analytics PollingTM ) Whatever your politics, I think you’ll agree that Tuesday’s election results were stunning. What is now being called an historic upset victory for Donald Trump apparently came as a complete shock to both of the campaigns, the media and, not least, the polling community.

The question everyone seems to be asking now is how could so many projections have been so far off the mark?

Some pretty savvy folks at Pew Research Center took a stab at some reasonable guesses on Wednesday—non-response bias, social desirability bias, etc.—all of which probably played a part, but I suspect there’s more to the story.

I believe the real problem lies with quantitative polling, itself. It just is not a good predictor of actual behavior.

Research Told Us Monday that Clinton Was In Trouble

On Monday I ran a blog post highlighting responses to what was inherently a question about the candidates’ respective positioning:

“Without looking, off the top of your mind, what issues does [insert candidate name] stand for?”

Interestingly, in either case, rather than naming a political issue or policy supported by the candidate, respondents frequently offered up a critical comment about his/her character instead (reflecting a deep-seated, negative emotional disposition toward that candidate). [See chart below]

odintexttrumpclintonissues

Our analysis strongly suggested that Hillary Clinton was in more trouble than any of the other polling data to that point indicated.

Why?

  1. The #1 most popular response for Hillary Clinton involved the perception of dishonesty/corruption.

 

  1. The #1 and #2 most popular responses for Donald Trump related to platform (immigration, followed by pro-USA/America First), followed thirdly by perceived racism/hatemongering.

Bear in mind, again, that these were unaided, top-of-mind responses to an open-ended question.

So for those keeping score, the most popular response for Clinton was an emotionally-charged character dig; the two most popular responses for Trump were related to political platform.

This suggested that not only was Trump’s campaign messaging “Make America Great Again” resonating better, but that of the two candidates, the negative emotional disposition toward Hillary Clinton was higher than for Trump.

Did We Make a Mistake?

What I did not mention in that blog post was that initially my colleagues and I suspected we might have made a mistake.

Essentially, what these responses were telling us didn’t jibe with any of the projections available from pollsters, with the possible exception of the highly-respected Nate Silver, who was actually criticized for being too generous with Trump in weighting poll numbers up (about a 36% chance of winning or slightly better than expecting to flip tails twice with a coin).

How could this be? Had we asked the wrong question? Was it the sample*?

Nope. The data were right. I just couldn’t believe everyone else could be so wrong.

So out of fear that I might look incompetent and/or just plain nuts, I decided to downplay what this data clearly showed.

I simply wrote, “This may prove problematic for the Clinton camp.”

The Real Problem with Polls

Well, I can’t say I told you so, because what I wrote was a colossal understatement; however, this experience has reinforced my conviction that conventional quantitative Likert-scale survey questions—the sort used in every poll—are generally not terrific predictors of actual behavior.

If I ask you a series of questions with a set of answers or a ratings scale I’m not likely to get a response that tells me anything useful.

We know that consumers (and, yes, voters) are generally not rational decision-makers; people rely on emotions and heuristics to make most of our decisions.

If I really want to understand what will drive actual behavior, the surest way to find out is by allowing you to tell me unaided, in your own words, off the top of your head.

“How important is price to you on a scale of 1-10?” is no more likely to predict actual behavior than “How important is honesty to you in a president on a scale of 1-10?”

It applies to cans of tuna and to presidents.

@TomHCAnderson

 

[*Note: N=3,000 responses were collected via Google Surveys 11/5-11/7 2016. Google Surveys allow researchers to reach a validated (U.S. General Population Representative) sample by intercepting people attempting to access high-quality online content—such as news, entertainment and reference sites—or who have downloaded the Google Opinion Rewards mobile app. These users answer up to 10 questions in exchange for access to the content or Google Play credit. Google provides additional respondent information across a variety of variables including source/publisher category, gender, age, geography, urban density, income, parental status, response time as well as google calculated weighting. All 3,000 comments where then analyzed using OdinText to understand frequency of topics, emotions and key topic differences. Out of 65 topics total topics identified using OdinText 19 topics were mentioned significantly more often for Clinton, and 21 topics were significantly more often mentioned for Trump. Results are +/- 2.51% accurate at the 95% confidence interval. ]

 

Who Are You Voting Against?

Text Analysis Shows Dislike May Decide Presidential Election (A Text Analytics PollTM ) Exit pollsters today will ask thousands of Americans “Who did you vote for?” when they probably should be asking “Who did you vote against?”

A survey we just completed suggests that the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election may hinge on which candidate is disliked more intensely by the other side.

One simple question posed interchangeably for the candidates produced such an unexpectedly visceral emotional reaction that one could reasonably conclude a vote for either candidate in many cases may be primarily about preventing the other candidate from being elected.

More than Just the Lesser of Two Evils

They’re both unpopular. We knew that already.

A slew of polls going back to the start of the general election and most recently by Washington Post/ABC News have repeatedly indicated that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the two least popular candidates for U.S. president in the history of political polling.

What conventional, multiple-choice polling does not reveal, although it certainly supports this conclusion, is that apparently this election will not just be a matter of just holding one’s nose and voting for the lesser of two evils.

Unaided responses to one open-ended question analyzed using OdinText suggest that what may drive many voters to cast their ballots for either candidate today is an intense distaste for the alternative.

People’s distaste for each candidate is so intense that when asked to tell us what Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stands for, respectively, respondents didn’t name a policy issue, they named a character flaw.

Top of Mind: The Crook and the Hatemonger

We took a general population sample* of 3000 Americans via Google surveys, split it in half randomly, and asked each half the same single question substituting only the candidate’s name:

“Without looking, off the top of your mind, what issues does [insert candidate name] stand for?”

The comments—presumably the issues that are truly top of mind for people in this election—were analyzed with OdinText and are captured in the chart below.

odintexttrumpclintonissues

You’ll note that for each candidate (red for Trump, blue for Clinton), respondents frequently offered a negative character perception instead of naming a political issue or policy supported by the candidate.

Indeed, the most popular response for Hillary Clinton involved the perception of dishonesty/corruption and the third most popular response for Donald Trump was perceived racism/hatemongering.

In both cases, the data tell us that people are unusually fixated on perceived problems they have with the candidates personally.

More Joy, Less Anger for Trump

Though the responses tended to be short and direct, a look at the words used to describe the candidates provides a pretty clear picture of the emotions associated with each candidate.

The OdinText visualization below shows the most striking emotional differences between Clinton and Trump around respondents’ levels of joy and anger. [See OdinText Emotions Plot Below, Trump Red, Clinton Blue]

clintonvstrumptextanalytics

While descriptions for both candidates exhibit a lot of anger, the proportion of anger in comments for Clinton is significantly higher (16.4% VS 12.3% for Trump).

The higher level of joy identified in this analysis is partly due to Trump’s positive campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” which had significantly higher recall among respondents than Clinton’s slogan “Stronger Together.” Among those surveyed, 33 people in our sample specifically referenced the Trump slogan, while only one person referenced Clinton’s slogan—a notable difference in percentage terms (2.2% vs 0.07%, respectively)

More Effective Messaging for Trump

In terms of actual issues identified by respondents, Clinton was most often associated with championing women and civil rights, while Trump was identified with immigration and a pro-America, protectionist platform.

Here one could argue that the Trump campaign has done a more effective job of establishing a signature issue for the candidate.

While neither campaign has done a significantly better job of educating voters on its candidate’s policies than the other (8.2% vs 8.6% for Trump and Clinton, answering “I don’t know”), it may be that the simple message of “Make America Great Again” has clearer meaning to people than Clinton’s “Stronger Together.”

Indeed, the top issue identified for Trump was immigration (12.8% VS 2.3% for Clinton), while the number one issue for Clinton was the negative trait “corruption/lies” (12.5% VS. 1.4% for Trump).

This may prove problematic for the Clinton camp.

When voters don’t like their choices, they tend to stay home. If voter turnout is high today, it won’t be because people are unusually enthusiastic about the candidates; it will be because one of these candidates is so objectionable that people can’t in good conscience abstain from voting.

@TomHCAnderson

 

[*Note: N=3,000 responses were collected via Google Surveys 11/5-11/7 2016. Google Surveys allow researchers to reach a validated (U.S. General Population Representative) sample by intercepting people attempting to access high-quality online content—such as news, entertainment and reference sites—or who have downloaded the Google Opinion Rewards mobile app. These users answer up to 10 questions in exchange for access to the content or Google Play credit. Google provides additional respondent information across a variety of variables including source/publisher category, gender, age, geography, urban density, income, parental status, response time as well as google calculated weighting. All 3,000 comments where then analyzed using OdinText to understand frequency of topics, emotions and key topic differences. Out of 65 topics total topics identified using OdinText 19 topics were mentioned significantly more often for Clinton, and 21 topics were significantly more often mentioned for Trump. Results are +/- 2.51% accurate at the 95% confidence interval. ]