We've been watching some of the Senate races lately, and if the trends we're seeing continue, it will be an interesting summer and fall for a number of campaigns.
Today we're looking at Texas and what people are discussing when they talk about the race between Republican incumbent Ted Cruz and Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke.
Because he will be playing a significant role in any race this year, we start by looking at the public opinion of President Trump. Recent online discussions from Texas mentioning the President have a neutral sentiment indicating that he isn't impacting the race for either candidate to any great extent.
The most discussed issues for both Cruz and O'Rourke over the last month have been gun control, immigration, and taxation. The sentiment expressed on increased gun control was the most intense, with it being a strong negative among Cruz supporters and a positive among those leaning O'Rourke.
Overall, Cruz is maintaining a 54-46 lead in support among those Texans discussing the race online, but O'Rourke has shown strength over the past month indicating this will be a race that could hold some surprises over the next few months.
Eyesover Technologies’ analysis of the Texas Senate race consists of continuously measuring mentions of each candidate and relevant issues from a daily average of approximately 10,000 comments from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Reddit, and translating those mentions into voter intention with our proprietary algorithms.
March was as eventful as ever for the President with more high-profile hirings and firings, continued fallout from Russian political interference, and increased attention on extra-marital affairs allegations. The impact of these events was clearly evident in how the public viewed the President throughout the month.
While Trump's approval rating in March tended to stay within a range of 45 to 50 percent, the public were viewing Trump more negatively through the period of March 14 - 19 with his approval rating reaching a monthly low of 39%. The public's discussions during this period focused on the firing of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the hiring of Larry Kudlow as Trump's top economic aide, and Russian sanctions. The last time the President's approval rating reached such a low level was in the aftermath of the February 14th school shootings in Florida.
Trump's approval rating bounced back to its normal range over the last 10 days of the month, despite the period including heightened attention to multiple allegations of extramarital affairs and more changes in various roles within government.
The recent news regarding Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data has certainly brought increased attention to the use of social media in the political sector. As a result, we feel it is appropriate for any company that accesses data from Facebook to be asked questions about how they are using that data and for what purposes. At Eyesover, we want to be completely open and transparent about our usage of Facebook data given the interest that the news of the previous few days has created.
The Facebook data that Eyesover accesses and uses in our system is limited to that which is deemed to be public. We cannot access any data from individual profiles, nor do we receive any data pertaining to the individuals who post on public pages, pages we must specifically request access to from the Facebook API. We simply receive the text of the posts or comments and use this information to determine what issues people are discussing from these pages.
At Eyesover, we have always been focused on discovering new and emerging issues and how those issues are impacting our customers. We are much more focused on what people are saying, rather than who is saying it and we have always found Facebook data very helpful in creating insights for our customers without the need for the personal information of the content creator.
Through the analysis of online conversations, Eyesover provides real-time polls indicating the public's support (or lack thereof) for the topic of the conversation. Many of our customers use this polling ability in the political sector. Eyesover listens, analyzes, and tracks how much public support each political party or candidate is getting compared with their competition.
So how do we determine public support? To answer this question, we looked at what it means to be considered a supporter.
Consider how one might learn about a friend's favorite sports team? One way is to ask them - this is how traditional polls work. The poll would ask a question and provide options to choose from. A different way to find out what your friend's favorite sports team is, would be to just listen to them. Typically, if someone is vocal about their opinions then it generally doesn't take long to learn where that person stands on different topics. Even if someone isn't very vocal, we often learn a lot from normal, everyday conversations with each other. The key here is listening. Listen to what people are saying and learn from it. Even without asking a question, it is not difficult to tell if someone is opinionated about specific topics based on how much they keep bringing up the topic.
We took these concepts and applied them to how we find supporters within the social media landscape. Our customers simply choose which subjects, such as two competing politicians, they would like to find public support for and our system then listens to all online conversations taking place about those politicians. By listening to these conversations, Eyesover is able to determine if people on social media are (a) interested in a subject, based on how much they discuss it, and (b) how they feel about that subject.
Through our product development, we have learned how much discussion and what sentiment is required to confidently state an individual is a supporter or an idea, brand or individual. The analysis is performed for every “vote” in our poll in real-time. In fact, Eyesover's polling system calculates over 10 million voters every hour, and as the search for discussion grows through our AI technology, more voters are calculated every day.
Determining a supporter has far reaching benefits. Not only does this provide accurate predictions for such things as political elections, it also provides our customers with a deep understanding about the critical opinions influencing their audience.
As the numbers from last night’s Special Senate Election in Alabama rolled in, things were playing out exactly how Eyesover Technologies had predicted they would as Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore.
Heading into the vote counting Tuesday night, Eyesover projected Jones had a 52-48 advantage over Moore. The final results were Jones at 49.9%, Moore at 48.4% and 1.7% write-ins.
Eyesover uses online data to provide public opinion to their clients including their Real-Time Polling that correctly predicted the Jones victory Tuesday night. “We understand that the communications landscape is undergoing a massive shift with people cutting the cord and increasingly using online devices for their everyday communication needs. Because of this, the way we identify, measure, and act on public opinion has to change as well. As the public increasingly expresses their views online, that data can be used to understand public support for products, policies, and in last night’s case, political candidates” stated Eyesover CEO Craig Leonard.
The New Brunswick, Canada based company has recently made inroads into the US market with their software and expect their success in predicting the Alabama result will accelerate that growth. “You could not ask for a more difficult election to predict as demonstrated by the fact most polls were predicting a Moore victory. But when you have access to over 35,000 individuals expressing their opinions as we did on Tuesday, it makes it possible to accurately predict what is going to happen” Leonard said.
The Eyesover platform uses artificial intelligence to find online discussions pertaining to their customer’s area of interest. The data collected by the platform allows Eyesover to tell their customers what issues are trending, public opinion, and helps target advertising towards the most receptive audiences for the customer’s messages.
Doug Jones is heading into tomorrow's Senate Election in Alabama with a small but growing lead over Roy Moore. After being tied at the end of last week, Jones has started to add support over the past couple of days to move ahead 54-46.
Since Eyesover uses online data for its polling, determining the location of a specific account is not always possible if the account owner chooses not to publish their location. However, Eyesover can segment the individuals discussing the Alabama election online into groups of people who are from Alabama and those who have no confirmed location (they may be from Alabama or any other location).
The variance in support levels between these two groups is interesting as the Alabama group shows the 54-46 lead for Jones while the data from the Unconfirmed Location (UL) group shows a closer race at 51-49 for Jones.
When we dive down into the issues these groups are discussing in relation to the election, the Alabama group's top issue is Healthcare while the UL group's top issue is Human Rights/Women's Issues.
Roy Moore has been able to pull into a tie with Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate race according to Eyesover's Real-Time Polling today.
After a week where Jones showed signs of pulling ahead, recent support from the Republican National Committee and efforts from Moore's team appear to have halted Jones' momentum and have boosted Moore's chances.
Most of the discussion pertaining to the race has been focused on the candidates themselves, but when policy issues have been discussed, women's rights, healthcare, and gun control have been the most mentioned.
Eyesover Technologies measures candidate support through our Real-Time Polling module that is part of our Trend Discovery Platform. The polling module analyzed online discussions of the Alabama Senate race of 23,000 individual online accounts over the past week to create today's poll.
When it comes to extracting content from social media feeds, the majority of social media monitoring or listening systems in the market are doing the same thing - using a set of keywords the user believes will lead the system to the content they want. The problem with this approach is two-fold. Not only does a single search lead to a lot of data noise, but by definition, a system using keywords the user provides will not find content using language the user is not familiar with.
That’s why at Eyesover we take a dual approach to our content gathering. We use two levels of search terms and we use artificial intelligence (AI). Here's why they work well together and what they do for you.
To filter the good stuff from the noise is a big job for one layer of keywords. We use an outer layer of search terms that give us a wide selection of content, and a second, more specific layer of search terms to find the content from the discussions about your areas of interest
Within that framework is where our AI operates. From just a few keywords for the topics you are interested in, the Eyesover system gets the idea of what you are looking for and then automatically finds and starts to use new keywords in order to find new content discussing the topics you want to know about. Once this process is started, the system constantly learns from what it previously learned.
How do we know this works? As one would expect, at the beginning, our system adds many new search terms every hour, the content they find filling in any gaps the initial search terms left. Many times this can more than double the amount of content found. As the system quickly matures, the keyword discovery tends to focus on uncovering the changing or emerging issues of interest to the user indicating the system has filled in the gaps in the ongoing conversations.
What does this mean for our customers? Ease of use and accuracy. You don't have to spend any time fine tuning as the AI takes over that task and objectively finds the more specialized or local issues you may be interested in.
It all leads to more and better data that can help your decision-making.
The strong lead Doug Jones held in the Alabama Senate race last week is all but gone as Roy Moore's support has rebounded driving Jones' lead down to 4 points.
As a result of Jones' lead last week, it appears that Moore supporters have become more engaged as there has been an increase in the number of individuals talking negatively about Jones online, while discussions about Moore have become more positive.
While 90% of last week's discussions pertaining to the race were about Moore, we now see a 60-40 split between Moore and Jones. The issue for Jones is his sentiment scores have fallen from an overall positive to an overall negative in a relatively short period of time.
Today's Eyesover Support Index indicates that Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore has been unable to stop the erosion of his support over the past week and now trails Democratic candidate Doug Jones by 12 points.
Over the past week there has been 10x more online discussion pertaining to Moore than Jones, but the overwhelming majority of those discussions have been marked with very negative sentiment towards Moore, the cause of his deteriorating support.
Jones has been in the background while Moore has been the focus of the media over the past week, but he will clearly be attracting more attention from all sides now that the race is competitive. With his online mentions increasing over the past two days, we'll be watching to see how it will affect his sentiment and support scores.
The Eyesover Team