The American presidential race is now in full swing, and whilst the propaganda machines are in full swing ahead of the so-called Super Tuesday on 1st March – the biggest day in the election calendar thus far, when 15 caucuses or primary votes are held – analysts and pundits are still reluctant to share their two cents’ worth on what many are calling the closest election for decades.
Hilary Clinton and Ted Cruz are maintaining relatively strong support nationwide thanks to well-funded campaigns. However, their predictable policies are losing out to those of more radical politicians. The infamous Donald Trump has been pulling ahead in the polls for a while, but socialist Bernie Sanders is providing the previously safe Clinton with some close competition.
Interestingly, American news website FiveThirtyEight have highlighted this growth in more obscure politicians and policies using data gathered from social networks and have collated it on an interactive map. According to the site “If Facebook likes were votes, Bernie Sanders would be on pace to beat Hilary Clinton nationwide by nearly a three-to-one margin and Donald Trump [would] garner more support than Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio combined”. If we are to trust the blue thumb, it seems that either Trump or Sanders will be making their inauguration speech next January.
Sanders holds his most significant leads in towns and cities with large student populations, particularly San Francisco, home to a large University of California campus and Boston, the city that is home to both Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
New York, home to both the Clinton and Trump campaigns, however, seems to be more divided. Clinton maintains a stong hold in Manhattan, whilst Trump has pulled ahead in the more suburban Staten Island as well as the urbanised Bronx.
These statistics should, of course, be taken with a pinch of salt. Facebook likes obviously do not equate to votes at the ballot box, and despite approximately 58% of Americans having a Facebook profile, the popularity of social media amongst young people in comparison to their older counterparts, and the disproportionate number of low-income and female users of the service render the samples provided by this statistic questionable.
Nonetheless, this research seems to capture the general dissatisfaction with the status quo of American politics. With the growing power of the hashtag, the soundbite and the viral video, 2016 could come to be known as the first election that can claim: “It was the Internet what won it it”.