US Senate Elections - Case Study
Elections to the United States Senate will be held November 6, 2018, with 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate being contested in regular elections and two seats being contested in special elections. The winners will serve six-year terms from January 3, 2019, to January 3, 2025. Currently, Democrats have 24 seats up for election, including the seats of two independents who caucus with them. Republicans have nine seats up for election.
In line with this, we would like to recall the case study that we conducted during the Senate elections in 2014 as it demonstrated the multitude of options offered by e IntenCheck text analysis software. In that study, we not only analyzed the effective communication styles of the “winners” but also the not so effective style of the election “losers”. It is well known that politicians need to have highly persuasive communication skills which is why being able to distinguish these subtle stylistic differences is so important.
In this case study we aimed to provide a new perspective on how language can be an important predictor of success or failure. To do so, we turned our attention to the U.S. Senate elections from November 2014 and analyzed Tweets sent out by the candidates. We then separated the winners from the losers to find out how their communication differed.
All the tweets sent out from January 1st to November 2nd (2014) from the accounts of various candidates who participated in the U.S. Senate elections were included.
According to the results of the elections, 5 of them were among the winners and 7 of them lost the elections.
We were most interested in comparing the message characteristics of the winners to those of the losers. These differences could potentially tell us a lot about the preferences of the voters and may be predictive of the next election.
Using a total of 2956 tweets, our system calculated the occurrences of specific words for each of the evaluated categories and, after the election results were announced, winners and losers were evaluated relative to the established norms.
The results for the categories representing the six basic emotions demonstrated that voters generally preferred candidates who expressed their feelings outwardly. Only one out of six emotions - ‘Joy’- returned the same ‘normal’ value for both winners and losers. The emotions Anger, Fear, Sadness, and Surprise showed high or very high values in the winners, which was in sharp contrast with the ‘low’ or ‘very low’ values obtained by those on the losing side. ‘Disgust’ was the only emotion which the elected candidates expressed less than those who ended up losing the elections.
From these results we drew two conclusions:
- Voters prefer candidates who are not afraid to express raw emotions. They prefer real people and not emotionless beings.
- In particular, there was a specific set of strongly expressed emotions - Fear, Sadness and Surprise - emotions that are generally associated with criticism of the existing status and promises of change.
Attitudes expressed by each candidate were measured using the three main semantic differential scales: ‘Positive-Negative’, ‘Active-Passive’ and ‘Strong-Weak’. These are the three main scales on which we unconsciously evaluate all people and phenomena of the world.
The winners exhibited very high values in all of the semantic differential categories, suggesting that best ability to navigate in the world and this attracted the voters. In general, voters need orientation and they tend to prefer those who offer them some basic guidelines.
Winners showed a clear increase in sincere messaged in their tweets and avoided hiding behind ambiguous messages. It is no coincidence that the winning candidates, who expressed their emotions more clearly, were also the ones to be perceived as more sincere, while the losing candidates, who seemed more emotionless, were detected by our system as trying to hide their truthful opinions.
In conclusion, it appears that voters look for sincerity and clarity in the messages of their candidates rather than candidates that may have dispassionate messages.
After analyzing the candidates’ tweets, one of the first things we noticed was the significant difference between some of the candidates when it comes to values that describe their communication style (representational systems).
The winners were constantly using all of the communication channels (visual, auditory, kinesthetic & rational) when communicating, while the losing candidates seemed unaware of this detail. This leads us to believe that the election winners were better informed about how to use all channels of information transmission and may have been working closely with professionals in order to be more influential.
The evaluation of the timeline categories reveals what we had already expected: that voters are interested in the future changes and generally prefer those candidates who talk to them more about what’s to come.
Candidates who lost the elections failed to paint a clear picture of their future goals and mostly focused on the present. The motivation direction categories reflect how the reader is being motivated: either by moving away from problems (Away From) or by moving towards achieving goals (Towards).
In terms of the direction of motivation expressed throughout the tweets, our analysis shows one major difference: the winners focused a lot more on the problems that currently exist and criticized the present way of dealing with these problems which they intend to help solve. This also explains why the winners obtained very high values for negative emotions (Anger, Fear, Sadness) and why it had a positive impact on them.
The perceptual positions results give us insights into the points of view that the Senate candidates adopted. This information is very important when the goal is to influence the perception of the audience, or, in our case, when trying to understand how the winners successfully managed to influence the voters’ perception of them.
In our opinion, the candidates who were elected did three things differently from those who lost the elections:
- High values for the first position: this means that they talked more about themselves and weren’t afraid to express their opinions and thoughts. They took responsibility for their views and showed themselves more as who they are. As a result, they were perceived as being better leaders.
- Very high values for the third position: the winners also talked more about others, they used a lot of criticism and opposed other views and opinions more than the losers. Very high values for the fourth position: they connected better with the audience and talked more about what they can achieve together. By using the point of view of “we” or “us” more frequently, they created better rapport with the audience and were better able to share their vision with the voters.
After examining the text analysis results for every category, we can easily notice the differences in communication styles between the candidates who won the elections for the Senate and those who lost them.
We would like to point out that, based on this comparison and on our extended research in this field, our system can prove to be an important, as well as accurate, tool for achieving greater influence and getting better results. It can also be used to analyze texts in order to predict results or outcomes, and to improve the chances of being elected.