Social Media and Politics: The Highs and Lows of the 2016 US Election

Social Media and Politics: The Highs and Lows of the 2016 US Election

It’s finally here.

After months of campaigning, we’re now just days away from 2016 US Election.

On social media, the debate has been fierce with both candidates rocked by scandals and struggling to gain a clear advantage.

Trump has had the volume but Clinton has had the support of the most influential people.

We’ve looked at social data from the beginning of the year - at a time when we didn’t even know who the candidates would be - to chart the highs and lows of the social media political campaign.

us election social media buzz

To see live social data from the US Election visit our Election 2016 social media dashboard.

Week of Feb 29 – Super Tuesday: Will Donald Trump actually be the candidate?

Social Media Buzz Level: Warm

The first spike in social media discussion this year came in the week of February 29th. Why? With Super Tuesday and the March 3rd GOP debate falling in this week, conversation focused on the Republican candidate race but the focal point is Trump. By this point the soon to be Republican candidate already had a big lead. Lawsuits surrounding Trump University also helped to build election buzz in this week.

Week of May 2 – Voters Plump for Trump as Republican rivals fade

Social Media Buzz Level: Lukewarm

This week saw Trump’s last Republic rivals Kasich and Rubio drop out the race giving him a pretty much clear run for the candidacy. Conversation on social media shifted quickly to who would win in a Trump/Clinton race though Sanders still had a chance at this point. Immigration was the main policy issue with Trump’s stance on Mexico and muslim immigrants generating a lot of attention.

Week of June 6 – Woman in charge: Clinton becomes the Democratic candidate

Social Media Buzz Level: Lukewarm

In this week Hillary Clinton became the first ever female Presidential candidate and generally speaking the social public received her nomination as warmly as could have been expected. That said Clinton’s tweet calling on Trump to delete his account was a bit of a faux pas and became the subject of some derision.

Week of July 18: The RNC: Trump migrant plan stuns Europe and Melania’s speechgate

Social Media Buzz Level: Hot

Donald Trump takes center stage at the Republican National Convention and shocks the world with his comments on banning immigration from European countries that have had terror attacks. Earlier in the convention, Melania Trump supposed plagiarism of Michelle Obama’s speech also raises eyebrows. For the Democrats, Clinton’s email scandal resurfaces thanks to Wikileaks – a harbinger for events to come.

Week of July 25: The DNC: #ImWithHer say Obama and Sanders

Social Media Buzz Level: Hotter

Hot on the heels of the RNC, Clinton takes to the stage and accepts the nomination to be the Democratic candidate. After a hard fought battle against Bernie Sanders, Sanders comes out in support of Clinton saying there is only one choice for President. Incumbent President Obama also makes appearance to put his weight behind Hillary.

Week of September 26: Trump and Clinton go head to head with tax returns the story

Social Media Buzz Level: Nuclear

The debates take the level of social media discussion to another level with the first debate generating around 5 million results in 1.5 hours. Both sides claim victory but on social media the discussion focuses on Trump’s tax returns and tax policy. Clinton sees a big surge of support on social during the debate but Trump’s social media support returns quickly after.

Week of October 3 – The Big One: VP Debate, Trump video leak and the 2nd debate

Social Media Buzz Level: Surface of the sun

This was the week when it all came to a head and election fever went off the scale. The week started relatively low key with the VP debate but then went stratospheric when a video was leaked showing Trump making sexual comments about women. The week was rounded off by the 2nd presidential debate where the social media discussion remained firmly on Trump’s attitude toward women.

Week of October 10 –Michelle Obama for President and the return of the emails.

Social Media Buzz Level: Nuclear

The fallout out from debate number two spills over into the first part of this week but it’s Michelle Obama’s speech calling out Trump’s attitude towards women is what catches the social media public’s attention. But the boost for Clinton is shortlived as Wikileaks release another trove of emails gradually moving the conversation away from Trump and women.

Week of October 17 – Bad Hombres and Nasty Women: The Final Debate

Social Media Buzz Level: Bonfire

This week saw the final debate between the two candidates, the last opportunity for the Clinton and Trump to trade barbs face to face. Trump calling out Clinton as a Nasty Woman sparked a new (positive) hashtag for Clinton and a whole load of t-shirts. Who was the winner? Perhaps the only clear winner was headache drug Excedrin who jumped on the debate buzz to using the hashtag #debateheadache.

Week of October 24 – The Final Countdown: Wikileaks strikes again

Social Media Buzz Level: Bonfire

With the election right around the corner the Clinton email scandal resurfaces one last time with the FBI announcing that they will reopen their investigation and Wikileaks reveal yet more emails. With the tide having shifted strongly in favour of Clinton since Trump’s video leak, momentum switches back again as polls show Trump closing the gap. Social media also reacted to an act of vandalism on the Hollywood Walk of Fame…

For live social media data around the 2016 election, visit our 2016 election tracker on the Talkwalker website.

election dashboard cta

Photo credits for the cover image: CC/Flickr/Boston Harbofest - Lorie Shaull - Gage Skidmore (changes were made)

Photo credits for graph: CC/Flickr/T.J. Hawk - Gage Skidmore - Erik Drost - Bill B (changes were made)