Where the Presidential Candidates Can Make Up Ground on Social

Published on Nov 17th, 2015

by Jack Weinstein

While it may be a year until voters cast their ballots for the next president, audiences have already made their preferences known on social media.

Of the three Democrat and 15 Republican candidates , one from each party is generating more social engagement than their competitors. Hillary Clinton is outpacing challengers Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. And Ben Carson leads Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, among others.

We wanted to see how the top candidates were faring by geographic area of the U.S. Using Shareablee data, we compared engaged audiences of local Designated Market Areas (or DMAs—media markets defined by Nielsen ) with who they engage with on Facebook. By doing so, we were able to determine in which states audiences engaged with presidential candidates.

Since Carson and Clinton have emerged as the top candidates in each party, we took a closer look at the political affinity of local media audiences across the country. The chart below shows the most engagement Carson and Clinton generated in October by state, based on DMAs. Click to enlarge

Not surprisingly, a majority of the candidates’ engaged audiences are located in states with some of the country’s biggest media markets: Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Dallas.

The percentage of engaged audiences by state also fell in line with 2012 presidential election results . So it’s not surprising to see that Clinton’s Facebook fans exceed Carson’s in blue states California (23% to 11%) and New York (8% to 5%). And likewise, Carson’s lead in red states Texas (8% to 6%) and Georgia (6% to 3%) doesn’t astound.

But Carson is leading, though slightly, in Florida (3.3% to 2.5%), Illinois (8% to 7%) and Ohio (7% to 6%)—three states President Obama won in 2012.

Contests for each party’s nomination start in earnest in February with the Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.

Clinton is leading Carson by 71% Iowa, which Obama also won in 2012. Clinton also has the lead in Massachusetts (6% to 2.5%), another blue state that includes the Boston and Manchester, N.H., DMA. Carson is leading Clinton by 106% in South Carolina, which Mitt Romney won in 2012.

The candidates could potentially gain ground in the states where they trail the opponent by tailoring social media campaigns to their fans who engage with local media.

For instance, Clinton could appeal to the fans of ABC 7 in Chicago or NBC 6 South Florida , who often engage with heartwarming stories. And Carson could review social interactions of top Iowa stations KWWL and KGAN CBS 2, whose audiences engage with questions about important issues, such as bullying or religion in schools.

While there’s plenty of time for the other candidates to make up ground on social, Carson has consistently outperformed his Republican competitors . And Clinton has also generated more engagement than Sanders and O’Malley , and other republicans at times .

3 Observations From Saturdays Debate

  1. The Republicans were the real standouts on social during the Democratic debate, generating significantly more engagement than their political rivals with posts addressing the Friday night terrorist attacks in Paris.

Trump had three of the most engaged posts Saturday, all critical of President Obama and his response to ISIS following the attacks. Trump also had the four most engaged tweets, all criticisms of the president.

Carson and candidate Mike Huckabee were responsible for the other posts in the top five. Huckabee also criticized the president , while Carson posted a prayer .

  1. As we noted with Republicans, who are getting less engagement with each debate , a similar trend is occurring with Democrats.

Democrats generated more than 1.4 million total actions (likes, comments, shares, tweets and retweets) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from the first debate Oct. 13. That dropped to more than 581,000 total actions on Saturday, a 59% decline.

Like the Republicans who’ve lost a couple of candidates between debates, Democrats Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb both dropped out between debates. But they’re absence didn’t lead to the decline; together they accounted for 2% of total actions from the first debate.

  1. The Paris attacks overshadowed the debate and accounted for most social engagement Saturday and Sunday with Democrats as well. Clinton’s top posts on social, including the top Facebook post from a democrat, were about Paris.

Sanders had the top tweet and Instagram post from a Democrat. His Instagram post asked followers to tune into the debate and his tweet made a political statement, maybe in anticipation of pro-gun sentiment following the tragedy in Paris.

Discover how social media analytics can provide the insights to benchmark your brands performance against the competition with Shareablee. Start with Measuring What Matters on Social.


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