The Importance of the Internet for Political Campaigns

Important elections move Europe and the United States in 2016. On June 23, the UK decided to leave the EU, on November 8, the USA will vote for a new president to follow Barack Obama. The race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – and their campaigns to become their parties’ candidates – electrifies a worldwide audience. One reason for this is that a huge part of the debate is happening online and can be followed and commented in real time all over the world.

Ever since Obama’s first presidential campaign in 2008, the importance of the internet for elections has been recognized. Social media channels have become common means of communication for candidates, their supporters and opponents.

Given this development, it is not just important to be active on the web but also to gain intelligence from online discussions. How does the web community think about candidates and their opinions? Which statements are approved, which are opposed?

SSIX-technology was used to analyze the social sentiment towards the Brexit vote (see: http://ssix-project.eu/category/blog/) – but this was not more than a first step. The possible applications for politicians and political parties are manifold.

Candidates can follow the sentiment towards themselves and their opponents, toward political parties and topics. This can be used as a guide for the communication, especially but not exclusively in election campaigns.

The use of social media for communication and for gaining intelligence is far from being fully exploited – the effective use of SSIX-technology can be a step into the right direction.

 

This blog post was written by SSIX partner Jan Kleibrink at Handelsblatt Research Institute.
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