Pre-US Election Blog

US Elections: Hollywood Script or the Death of Polling as We Know it?

Unless you’ve just come back from a year long vacation on a desert island, you are undoubtedly caught up in the cauldron that is the US Election campaign. Is it politics? Is it entertainment? Is is science fiction? Who can tell?

The best Hollywood script writers, neither in drama nor in comedy, would not have written this one as…well…nobody would believe it.

However, we have recently witnessed a dramatic change in tactic with Donald Trump’s claiming that the election is and will be rigged by the media and officials alike. The fun appears to have stopped. The irony is, he is participating in what should be a democratic process yet he is questioning and insulting the very basis upon which democracy has been built.

Political experts are speculating that this ploy is a ruse to set up an excuse for the loser. certainly the Clinton campaign agree with this and have, again, made reference to the “Banana Republic” and how Donald will blame anyone but himself. Certainly the Democratic campaign is biased in this matter but are they that far off the truth? It’s getting a bit scary, to be honest, but we won’t know until the American public exit the voting booths.

Polls are showing Hillary Clinton to be ahead but, as the media are begrudgingly reminding us, polls have been notoriously wrong in the past few elections and referenda.

We in the News Analytics game have a different view.

We measure the percentage of positive comments in the media as a whole. News Analytics has shown us that Hillary was clearly ahead during the last two weeks but, as the charts show, she took a bit of a beating with the latest chapter of “E-mail-gate”. In fact, comparing charts with EURUSD, for example, News Analytics Negativity on both candidates parallels USD weakness.

News Analytics, sifting through literally millions of media and social media articles every day, has shifted in the Democrat’s favour after each debate. What we have noticed, as well, is that both candidates have been clearly below the 50% “positive” level for most of the campaign. Only in the last few days has News Analytics moved into the 55% area for both candidates

The same can be said for trading instruments like the major equity indices. News Analytics have shifted and has lead price movements all around the events of the election campaign.

News Analytics on Gold is currently moving from Bullish to Bearish, and back again, with alarming frequency and speed, which usually indicates instability related to geo-political events. As we all know, Gold is the safe haven when the going gets tough.

Measuring Positivity vs Negativity in the news has Mrs Clinton in a winning mood. So? You say that polls aren’t accurate? The truth is, we went through the months before the Brexit referendum looking at News Analytics on a variety of issues such as trade, immigration and jobs and the results were consistently pro-leave. We didn’t believe it either but look what happened!

Is traditional polling dead? The 2000 Gore vs Bush campaign was a wake-up call for the pollsters. They got it dramatically wrong. Sadly, at the time, machine learning, Natural Language Processing and News Data Mining were just in their infancy. Lately, however, polling again went completely off the rails with the last UK Elections, the Scottish Referendum and Brexit, just to name a few major ones. News Analytics, lurking in the background, seems to be sneaking up on traditional polling.

Media is the primary way in which candidates get their messages out, and we can not only measure how positive the media is writing about this, but also how well it is received on social media. A very unbiased approach to polling.

So. We ask the question again. Is traditional polling dead? Where should we send the flowers?