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.

Cover Image Credit: Credit: Adam Scotti / Flickr

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Stop Yelling At Me For Being Conservative

What you shouldn't say to millennial Republicans.
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Society today has a funny way of making Republicans seem like the scum of the Earth. The funniest thing is that it's actually not funny at all — it's an ignorant, rude way to treat people. See, America these days seems to be all about treating everyone fairly. That is, until differing opinions come about. How dare we Republicans view economics and politics differently? How dare we have our own opinions? How dare we identify as Conservative people, even as young adults?

So, without further ado, here are some things that I, a millennial Republican, am beyond tired of hearing.


"You're just a college girl, what do you know about politics?"

Yeah, I'm a basic white girl. I wear Converse to class and my sorority's letters are on my rear windshield. Guess what, though — I do my research. I've been following the presidential campaigns for months now. I've watched the debates, read the articles, visited the websites and studied the polls. I may be in a sorority and I may wear Converse, but I know what I'm talking about when it comes to this stuff. So, if you ask for my opinion, be prepared to hear a well-thought-out, educated answer.

"You only believe what your parents raised you to believe."

No, actually. My parents raised me to understand the value of hard work. They made me get a job when I was 16 years old so I could learn how to budget, save and provide for myself. My parents did not teach me to rely on other people to get what I want. My parents did not teach me to accept handouts. Therefore, I believe that success comes from hard work and dedication. I believe that each individual is responsible for his or her own success (along with his or her own property and obligations), hence why I identify as a Conservative.

"You're voting for him?!"

Yeah! I am! Funny, I thought we were all entitled to our own opinion. It turns out this is my opinion, and [insert candidate] has my vote. Cool how that works, huh?

"The GOP candidates this time around are horrible."

It doesn't take an idiot to see that none of the Republican candidates are the ideal presidential candidate. It also doesn't take an idiot to see that the same thing can be said of the Democratic candidates. Here's the reality: There never has been a perfect president, there never has been a perfect presidential candidate, there is no perfect president, there is no perfect presidential candidate, there never will be a perfect president and there never will be a perfect presidential candidate.

"You're so selfish."

Define selfish. I want my money to be my money and I want my rights to be my rights; I was unaware that that labels me as "selfish." I am confident that I can survive without the government's help.

"But don't you care about the old people/the kids/the environment/the homeless people/etc?"

Yes, I do. What I don't like is that my hard-earned money gets taken from me and used for other things. I'm not against helping out, don't get me wrong. I would love to donate to charities to help children and homeless people and the planet, that is if I had enough money to do so. Sadly, that money gets taken from me through taxes (Which could be considered forced donation, if you ask me. How is that fair?).

"But what about the minorities? You're just racist."

No, I'm not racist and yes, I do care about the minorities. I believe diversity is one of America's greatest qualities. What bothers me, though, is that society changes the meaning of "fair" when it comes to minorities. Yeah, it would be fair for us to all be able to pay our own medical bills and whatnot. Do you know what else would be fair? For even the members of minorities to get jobs and earn their way to success just like I'm trying to do. If illegal immigrants want to come to America, then they can go through the citizenship process, get a job and contribute to society. If they want to be treated equally, they need to start viewing themselves and treating themselves as working American citizens who pay the same taxes, get the same jobs and fight the same daily battles that we fight.

"You're hateful and/or heartless."

Nah. What I am is honest, self-sufficient and confident that other people can be honest and self-sufficient.

"You're ignorant."

Again, no, I'm not. As I've said several other times throughout this article, I know what I'm talking about and I can justify what I'm talking about. If anything, you're ignorant for accusing me of such things.

"You're crazy if you'd vote Trump over Sanders or Clinton if he's the chosen GOP candidate."

Please enlighten me on how this makes me "crazy." In this upcoming election, I will be voting for the candidate chosen by my political affiliation. The Republican Party's only strong opposing candidates include a self-proclaimed Socialist and a woman under FBI investigation. What I would consider "crazy" is if I voted for Sanders or Clinton over Donald Trump, just because Trump has offended some people before. (And no, this is not me saying I'm a loud and proud Trump supporter. In fact, Cruz has my vote either until he's elected into office or until Trump is chosen as the GOP candidate.)

Side note: I've heard the people, who hate Trump for being mean, say meaner things than that man ever has. A very wise man (Jesus, in John 8:7) once said, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."


What you should be saying to me is "Thank you," because I'm voting for freedom. I'm voting for civil liberties. I'm voting for constitutional rights. I'm voting for the will to succeed. I'm voting for the reward for hard work. I'm voting for the things that will actually help America keep prospering.

So, here's what I'll say to you: You're welcome.

Cover Image Credit: Kristi Russell

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That One Time I May Have Shot An Ex-Police Officer

Yeah, you heard me.

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In England, we don't really have guns, maybe hunting guns but I think it's pretty rare. Anyway, point is, barely any guns. I have never seen a gun, shot a gun, I don't even know anybody that owns a gun so as an exchange student in Oklahoma it's a novelty to visit a gun range.

I was pretty nervous about shooting but the instructor was super nice and told us how to hold the gun and load it before we went into the range. He also let us ask any questions we had about guns and explained the process of getting a gun in Oklahoma and he said he had visited Europe and was talking about England, and how he used to be a cop and opened his own gun shop. Basically a really really nice guy, which honestly makes harming him ten times worse.

We went into the range and we were shooting a 22 caliber and another guy at the range, I'm assuming a regular, asked if we wanted to fire his revolver so of course, we said yes.

This gun was definitely heavier and the trigger was super hard to pull but he kept his hand on the gun whilst I struggled with the trigger and then I fired it.

I heard a bang and I heard a yell.

I turned around and he was holding his thumb and there was blood dripping onto the floor. At this point, I thought I had shot him, so you can imagine the sheer level of panic that I was feeling.

The color drained from my face and I was frozen solid and all I could say was, "are you okay?" which was answered with a "Ma'am, put the gun down."

Basically, I'm freaking out and I look over at the lads for some form of reassurance, which was met with them looking equally as freaked out as me. So I asked,

"Do we need to call someone?"

"Yep. We are definitely gonna have to call someone"

So at this point, my nerves were shattered and I had no idea what was going on or what the procedure is for this sort of thing. I mean, the guy also took it like a champ and barely even winced and kept repeating "little lady, you're fine" – safe to say I did not feel fine nor did the situation, in my eyes, look at all fine.

Luckily the regulars knew what to do and took him to the ER so we were left in the store with another regular shooter.

Everyone else went back out to shoot but I didn't feel like assaulting/ shooting/ potentially murdering anyone else so I decided to sit this round out and talk to the woman that stayed with us and he called and said it wasn't me, something came off the bullet or gun and went into his hand- so no I didn't actually shoot him and he was going to be okay.

The point of this now very funny story is that whilst guns are cool they're also pretty dangerous.

I have no idea how someone can participate in these mass shootings because I didn't even shoot someone, only thought I did, and it was probably the most terrifying moment of my life.

So, if you are around guns, have fun, be safe and try not to send your instructor to the ER.

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