Social is Shaping the US Election—But Not in the Way You Think

There is much to learn from the current US presidential election, and that is without touching on issues and arguments. Those I leave to you, dear reader, whatever your political persuasion in whatever country you live.

My focus has been on what we can learn from all of the noise around us…often DIGIBABBLE…that plays such an important role in our jobs, our lives, our opinions.

I have written about the total myth of Big Data as some omnipotent source of outcome prediction. I have written about the lack of credibility in using online polling and sheer volume of social media interaction as a measure of support for one candidate over another. And I have shared views of candidates as the Brands they actually are.

And, in every instance I leave it to you to make up your own minds about the viability of one over another using the insight all of us can develop using the tools at our disposal.

Frankly, I am saving one final summary write up for after the election. Will analysts be “red-faced” as they were after Brexit, Colombia and so many other predictions they miscalculated?

Will we attribute a victory to Twitter or Facebook?

What will the loser bemoan?

And so on…

However, as the third and final debate wrapped up the season with the next big event being the actual election, I thought I might share a few questions I am grappling with and enlist your support for insight into my final summary a few weeks from now.

Here is one fascinating statistic from Pew Research…

About a third of 18–29-year-olds name Social Media as their most helpful source of learning about the current US presidential election.

Now taken on its own that number leads many to one “factual” and simple conclusion – Social is the driver of all discourse. Now, I would empathetically argue that is correct and has always been correct and will always be correct even when we enter the age of cranial embedment and then telepathy.

Social has always driven opinion…personal and mass…and, as I said, always will. We are social beings. We share ideas. We share opinions. We share doubts and certainties. We change our views or cement them with input from others.

So let’s be clear – Social, as we define it today, has made our human, inborn, DNA-driven need to socialize more efficient and effective…but in and of itself, is nothing more than empty software and questionable algorithms that exist because you/we give them life with our thoughts and musings.

And to suggest there has never been a long tail of discussion around presidential debates overlooks the lasting, till today, discussion around Richard Nixon’s pasty-faced, sweaty performance against John F. Kennedy back in 1960?

So now let’s go back and look at those 18–29-year-olds again and sew together what insight we might glean from them…

So while they might get a third of their most helpful information from sources that are labeled “social,” 57% of their information comes from identified news sources…meaning that they look to verified sources as well.

But what makes it more interesting is that CNN Dominates Election Cycle Among Millennials:

Millennials might not watch as much cable news as their parents, but when they do, the majority of adults age 18-34 prefer CNN over rivals Fox News and MSNBC.

Among that group, CNN has dominated the election cycle, averaging 50,000 millennial-aged viewers compared to 39,000 for Fox News and 28,000 for MSNBC from July 2015 through Oct. 4, 2016. CNN’s millennial audience grew 52 percent over that time period, with Fox News’ growth at 22 percent and MSNBC’s at 17 percent.

And sadly, we don’t yet count live streaming from Twitter and YouTube and other sources, and “Social Bots,” which account for up to a third of all postings, just muddy the waters.

Finally, for this post, another informational input revolves around BuzzFeed.

Please do not sell our younger folks short. According to website traffic and mobile app analytics company SimilarWeb, Politics is not in the top ten most-viewed topics on their platform, and while a majority of BuzzFeed’s traffic comes straight from Facebook, such is not the case with CNN, which is direct.

And that is why Andrew Kaczynski left BuzzFeed for CNN…not because BuzzFeed wasn’t a viable platform…au contraire…it’s important…but, as reported by Fortune:

Kaczynski, meanwhile, told The Huffington Post that his departure had nothing to do with the state of affairs at BuzzFeed but rather what the news network was able to offer. He said CNN has “unparalleled” resources for reporting, and that this would give the K-File team an opportunity to influence the current U.S. political debate in a powerful way.

So once again it’s all about PEOPLE FIRST. And I have great confidence that in a world filled with amazing ways to communicate and share, if we continue to teach the need for critical thinking and independent thought as a start, when the amplified megaphone influence of our water cooler on steroids world takes effect, we will actually be in a better place.

I don’t believe that we have been reduced to follow the social leader – it’s an insult to all – most especially our 18–24-year-olds…listen:

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. Edward R. Murrow

As for me – I get my news and opinions from Saturday Night Live…after all, it’s the truth, no? And skewers all….

Watch here: SNL Coverage Covers 3rd Presidential Debate

What do you think?


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