On the Election Trail with Big Data: New York Doesn’t Like Cruz

Context: As an outsider and a bit of a data geek, I’ve been tracking the US Election campaigns with interest. My tools are slightly different for this: I’m using the Election Monitor, a Twitter  analytics engine we at WSO2 built as a big data experiment, and it’s tracking everything happening around the US Election live. 

A lot of things just happened. The Panama Papers hit the wires, and despite the US media’s surprising reluctance to report on them, the world seems headed for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump lost Wisconsin. As did Clinton. As a friend of mine remarked, if there’s ever a city that restored your faith in America, it’s got to be the one that votes for Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz over Mr. Build-Me-A-Wall and the Email Female.

I’ve been watching the election through a slightly different lens: big data. Some time ago, we set up a website that fetches tweets in real-time and tries all sorts of analytics on them. Part of this site reads tweets and picks out oft-repeated words, trying to understand what the community is saying.

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Notice the Donald’s word cloud: “NEW”YORK” “PEOPLE” “RALLY” stand out. Is something happening in New York?

After his defeat in Wisconsin, Trump returned to home turf; he just gave a speech to 10,000 people in Long Island. The ammo for his speech was Cruz, Cruz and Cruz’s inelegant riffing of “New York values”. Trump worked this into a fever pitch, dragging out 9/11, praising the New Yorkers who came forward that day, and denouncing Cruz for damning those ‘values’ that made them come forward.

From what I can gather from the tweets, Trump’s tactics worked. Ted Cruz is toast in New York ever since he badmouthed New Yorkers!  says one. I can’t stop smiling.  -go Trump-

I’m sorry for you. I lost two good friends. Cruz should be chased out of town. Bastard,  says another.

This kind of rhetoric spans pages, with the occasional link claiming that Trump’s polling lead is meaningless.  Donald Trump’s Facebook post thanking Wisconsin (for his defeat?) is one of the most popular links in the space right now, – 3867 likes, 1281 retweets.

Perhaps the most telling tweet is by David Wasserman, House Editor for the Cook Political Report: “Remember: Wisconsin result does NOTHING to change the fact Trump’s likely to carry almost all 95 New York delegates on 4/19.”

Ted Cruz is not going to like New York.

It’s with some mirth that I find that, by the time I was done typing this piece,  Hillary Clinton’s wordcloud had changed. “QUALIFIED” is now says in big letters, as if in angry response to the hordes of people trolling   #HillarySoQualified.

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The best one yet?

“Let’s be completely honest. Hillary’s main qualification is that she’s been running for President for 15 years.”

Note: to see for yourself, visit https://wso2.com/election2016/.

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