Want To Predict A Presidential Election Accurately? Hear People

Want To Predict A Presidential Election Accurately? Hear People

Analysis of political posts on Odyssey shows the balance that traditional media missed.
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After the dust settled last week, everyone was asking the same question: how did the media get it so wrong? Why did it portray the election of Hillary Clinton as inevitable? Two primary critiques emerged. The first was that there was a media bias—that the industry was “so in bed” with Hillary that they wanted her to win and didn’t properly report on or vet both sides. The second was around the flaws of social media—that due to the nature of newsfeed algorithms, we all found ourselves in echo chambers of the same ideas from like-minded people, from the same old places.

The way I see it, there isn't enough content being created from diverse communities, and it's too hard for consumers to discover interesting content from multiple viewpoints. Media has to shout so loud to get through the noise, it resorts to radical headlines and outlandish commentators just to get our attention.

What if we were informed by the honest, unfiltered sentiment of people around the country instead? What if news feeds showed multiple perspectives around a topic instead of an echo chamber reinforcing our current beliefs? The good news is that our ability to do this exists now. If the media industry had embraced new media models that bring those perspectives to the world, everyone might have had a much more realistic understanding of how the election would unfold.

This is one of the reasons I created Odyssey, our social media platform of more than 15,000 content creators in 1,000+ communities and over 30 million readers. We analyzed nearly 11,000 pieces of election-related content posted on Odyssey over the past year. The results show, among a number of interesting data points, that while feelings about the two candidates were relatively balanced, a distinct anti-Hillary sentiment existed as well.

People engaged more with anti-Hillary content

While there was a higher percentage of positive Clinton articles posted on Odyssey, anti-Clinton content generated substantially more social engagements per read (while ‘engagement’ encompasses ‘likes,’ comments or shares per pageview, likes, which more obviously indicate sentiment, are the primary driver of the metric).

Trump was a more interesting subject

Of all election-related content generated since November 2015, 80 percent was related to Trump. Still, contrary to what the media might have thought, the posts were fairly evenly split between pro and anti-Trump sentiment.


Trump content inspired more response

Thirty-five percent of reads of a Trump-focused article resulted in the reader taking some social action, such as liking, sharing or commenting. Twenty-eight percent of Clinton-focused articles inspired that kind of response.

While “polls and predictive models failed to predict Trump’s strength” (Politico), an examination of the Odyssey community could have given everyone a more accurate sense of how the vote was going to turn out. Why?

How the democratization of content fixes media

The community model fosters trust: People are starving to understand what’s going on in their community. They also want to hear more global viewpoints through the lens of their community peers. When people understand that those perspectives represent nothing more than authentic ideas that the community deems important, they trust it.

Diverse viewpoints breed understanding: When you enable people everywhere to create content, the perspectives you get represent a wide range of opinions, not just what a few minds decide is newsworthy. There are a lot of people who have a lot to say out there. When that becomes thousands of millennial content creators representing more than 1,000+ local communities across the nation, you start to see just how wide that range--and how diverse that perspective--can be. Singular perspectives get woven into a rich fabric of ideas.

Personalized discovery helps people form a new worldview: Once that new fabric of ideas is surfaced, people need to make it their own. With noise-free exposure to these ideas, each person can then internalize what resonates the most with them and approach every issue with their own, new, broader perspective.

The combination of these three concepts solves media’s creation and distribution problem, breaking the echo chamber and bringing more empathy, value, and understanding.

It should be apparent by now that media’s role in influencing elections needs to change drastically. It bombed in this election because it didn’t understand or disseminate what people across the nation really thought. How do we ensure that media and social media are much more constructive next time around? At some level, there’s a fairly simple bottom line here: want to understand what the people really think? Go to the people! Hear their voices not only across the U.S., but across the entire globe.

Study & Methodology

*Study based on 10,990 total pieces of content. All articles mention Trump/Clinton in the headline and/or brief. Articles categorized as Trump/Clinton defined as content with mention of either candidate's name in the headline and/or brief of the piece. Engagements defined as likes, comments or shares to per page view per article. Pro/Anti categorization dependent on positive/negative descriptors commonly used for each candidate.

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Cornell Fraternity Reprimanded For Hosting 'Pig Roast'

"Continuing to allow such students to prowl a college campus rather than face expulsion appears a rather questionable decision set forth by Cornell elites."
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After receiving numerous reports, recent investigations were launched leading to the uncovering of a rather appalling contest used to determine incoming pledges of Cornell University's chapter of Zeta Beta Tau.

The fraternity was found guilty of administering a competition in which pledges were awarded points for initiating sexual intercourse with female students. However, unlike many similar contests popularized through rushes hosted by fraternities across the nation, Zeta Beta Tau coined their particular competition the "pig roast" in honor of their unique tiebreaker ritual. Should two or more pledges find themselves at a tie, the one who sleeps with the largest woman wins.

After the university's investigations confirmed the legitimacy of their reports in January, Zeta Beta Tau has been placed on a two year probation period in which the fraternity is required to employ a live-in adviser in order to enforce the proper conduct of current members and regularly educate them on the issue of sexual assault. In addition, members will be expected to take part in a minimum of two campus events in recognition of Cornell's Sexual Assault Awareness Week.

The question remains, however, whether a slap on the wrist such as this has truly done the women involved justice. Or, perhaps, presuming the acts were consensual, these women were only victimized through the humiliation of being unknowingly chosen for such a ritual rather than the sexual act itself. Therefore, can one lawfully designate this an act of sexual assault?

If a woman consents to a sexual encounter, she has not suddenly fallen victim to her partner. Rather, in this case, she is suffering the consequences of sleeping with a perfect stranger whose motives remained unclear. A brief look at any news source today would prove that this aftereffect is seemingly minor in comparison to the many things that happen to women who make similar choices. Although, this is not to say that the women involved deserved to be used this way by any means.

While arguments from either side of the issue of victimization may very well continue to remain a matter of opinion, it can be universally agreed that the actions of the Zeta Beta Tau members were resoundingly wrong based on natural principles. Another's body is not to be disrespected and sexually exploited for one's gain. Thus, continuing to allow such students the privilege to prowl a college campus rather than face expulsion appears a rather questionable decision set forth by Cornell elites.

Cover Image Credit: Guest of a Guest

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It Is Time To Bring An End To The Hate Between Liberals And Conservatives

The most important thing regarding the human condition is to treat each other with kindness.
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I think it is time to address the lack of respect each political party holds for each other. Neither party is innocent in my eyes.

I will begin by saying this: I currently identify as liberal because that is where most of my political views lie. However, I am disgusted by the behaviors enacted by some of the liberals my age.

Being a member of the University of Washington community has placed me among many liberal individuals who share similar views as me. Unfortunately, from several of my peers I have heard comments such as "I hate conservatives," "Conservatives are so stupid," and "I do not ever want to be around conservatives." I am guilty of saying phrases like these as well. I am sure some conservatives have said similar statements about liberals.

But now, the hate needs to stop.

I was reminded of the violent hatred between liberals and conservatives when the conservative group Patriot Prayer recently came to visit the University of Washington. Naturally, their presence attracted a protest that some UW students attended.

I had no desire to attend the protest because of the possibility that it could result in violence. Additionally, I did not think a protest would be beneficial to anyone.

A couple of my friends decided to attend, however. I remember watching short videos of the protest they filmed and put on their Snapchat stories. One particular video disgusted me.

The video showed a man surrounded by a group of people. He was trying to walk through the group but was repeatedly being shoved by people from several directions, almost getting pushed to the ground. In the background people chanted, "Nazis are not welcome here."

I do not know exactly what prompted some protesters to call the people there, specifically this man, Nazis, but this behavior is unacceptable. I was appalled. Are these really some of the people I go to school with? Are these really some of the people who claim to promote and fight for equality and love for all? I just know this: that kind of behavior is not what love looks like.

It is perfectly okay to disagree with someone else's opinion - there is nothing wrong with that. Disagreements provide opportunities for debate. They challenge our ideas, causing us to consider other perspectives and to reevaluate our own, ultimately resulting in growth. Regardless of whether or not our own opinion changes, we are provided with a more in-depth look at an alternate view.

However, disagreeing with someone else's opinion does not give one the right to harass or assault a person. Nothing gives one the right to do that. Acting in this way is rude, dangerous, and hurtful to people. It also affects the way outsiders view the person committing the harassment, and the group they identify with.

How can we expect to bring an end to harassment and assault if we engage in those behaviors as well? How can we expect to drive out hate by acting this way? I fear we are forgetting how to treat each other with respect and dignity. There should not come a day where we have lost all human decency.

I believe it is occurrences like this that paint liberals in a bad light in the eyes of conservatives, even though this behavior is not representative of all liberals.

Though neither group is entirely absent of violent behaviors, it is important to remember this: the actions of one conservative do not reflect conservatives as a whole, and the actions of one liberal do not reflect liberals as a whole. Both groups have toxic members just as much as both groups have loving members. One member does not define the entire group.

We need to reevaluate our actions. We need to reevaluate the assumptions we make about other groups. We need to consider the reasons why people have the beliefs that they do.

Whether a person's beliefs were instilled in them during childhood from the way they were raised or have been shaped by their experiences, it is important to recognize that not everyone will see the world the way we do. Each person sees the world through their own lens.

That being said, the most important thing regarding the human condition is to treat each other with kindness.

Cover Image Credit: Everypixel.com

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