Fear and Power in America

Which values dominate presidential candidate conversations?

July 5 – August 9

One thing that Metametrix Data is especially useful for is tracking how values change. And what better place to track shifting values than the turbulent, terrifying and entertaining U.S. presidential election?

Our approach:

We broke down a month’s worth of news, blog and social media posts into weekly data sets, monitoring values in the content focused on presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Over that time, we also watched polling data and key news events. We believe with polling data and news events as context, we can better understand the values — and therefore, to some extent, the candidates’ respective messages and appeal — around each of them.

Observations on values:

The value with far and away the strongest differential between Clinton and Trump was fear. Throughout the month, talk about Trump had more expressions of fear than that about Clinton. With very slight variations, fear-based language was far more prevalent in the Trumposphere for the duration of the month.

Interestingly, Trump’s slight poll bump the week of 7/26, just following the Republican National Convention, corresponding to a dip in the Clinton-focused language featuring the value of power.

What does it mean?

Candidates’ own messaging drives many of the values expressed in the language surrounding them. The larger share of voice for justice for Clinton is a consistent theme. The value of fear follows Trump around, as well, some fear language driven by the candidate, some fear-based talk about the candidate. As we move through the debates and get closer to the election, watch what news events and speeches move these baseline themes — and see how those changes are reflected in the polls.