Who isn’t running for president this year? The whopping line-up of 17 Republican candidates and five Democrats are already campaigning aggressively — despite the fact that there won’t be a single ballot cast for six months.
In last week’s first Republican debate only the top 10 polling candidates were invited to the primetime slot. The lower polling candidates debated earlier in the evening at what was unfortunately deemed the “kids’ table”.
While the impact of social media on elections is difficult to pin down, it’s interesting to assess the rise of a candidate’s popularity from his Twitter following. In order to gain a better understanding of the connection between Twitter and the polls, I created a data visualization that compares the follower size and percentage of growth over the course of the campaign to the current polling numbers.
The data reveals some interesting correlations. First, it is clear that Trump’s gigantic lead in the polls is proportionate to his gargantuan Twitter following. Trump’s highly unconventional political style — brash and unapologetic — stands out in the race and online.
It’s also notable that candidates who haven’t been major Republican primary candidates before have a higher rate of growth. Jeb Bush (+23%), Ben Carson (+21.8%), and Ted Cruz (+19.1%) are experiencing the highest rates of Twitter follower increase — a good sign for the longevity of their campaign.
On the other end of the spectrum lies Chris Christie. Despite his large Twitter following (534k+), Christie has experienced the lowest rate of increase (+1.6%) since he launched his campaign at the end of June.
While it’s far too early to pick a winner from this pool, it’s never too early for a little data-driven speculation.
Like this article? In the months ahead, Umbel will publish a range of data-driven articles and visualizations on the role of data in the 2016 election. Stay tuned!