Analysis of 500 candidates’ websites reveals differences in words and technology
Republicans and Democrats are in a heated battle for influence over key swing states and voter demographics. Both parties are bombarding the public with talking points and commercials. As they energize their bases and target swing voters, Republicans and Democrats are differing wildly in terms of both the language they choose and the topics they address.
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Mintigo’s research shows we can gauge those differences scientifically by evaluating the word clusters and topics used by Republican and Democratic candidates on their campaign websites. For this report, we used Mintigo’s Customer Search Engine™ to scour 519 websites associated with the campaigns of candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives — 258 associated with Democrats and 261 with Republicans.
Designed to search the Internet for marketers’ ideal prospects, the Customer Search Engine identifies the key attributes of organizations by looking at websites, press coverage, social networks, and technologies. When we turned the Customer Search Engine toward the world of politics, it processed politicians’ websites to identify common word clusters and count their frequency. After highlighting topics that appeared more often than average, the Customer Search Engine compared the number of times they appeared on Republican sites to the number of times they appeared on Democratic sites.
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The websites analyzed by Mintigo technology demonstrated the political platforms as one might expect. Republican candidates, who espouse themes of fiscal responsibility, were more than twice as likely as Democrats to closely associate words “budget,” “taxes,” “cut,” “debt,” “jobs,” “balance” and “reduce.” In fact, among the 50 websites where those words appeared the most, 47 were for Republican candidates. For their part, Democratic candidates were nearly two and a half times as likely as Republicans to cluster the words “education,” “Medicare,” “seniors” and “veterans,” demonstrating their party’s concern for safety net and social programs.
There are other interesting details in the terms used by each party. We’ve already discussed how Republican sites are more likely to mention “jobs.” But Democratic sites are 2.4 times more likely to mention “job security.” This suggests something about the people these candidates might be courting. The concept of “job security” might appeal to voters who are currently employed (translation: Democrats’ policies are working), while the Republican emphasis on “jobs” speaks to those who are unemployed (translation: Democrats’ policies aren’t working).
Mintigo was surprised to see asymmetry in calls for support. Democrats’ sites, for example, were 50 percent more likely to associate the words “help,” “support” and “join the campaign” together. Perhaps this stems from themes that President Obama uses in his speeches, or perhaps Democrats are simply more overt in their appeal for support.
It was also interesting that Republican websites mention President Obama more often than Democratic sites — 50 percent more often. This demonstrates how a sitting president can become a focal point for opposition.
Falling Down on Technology
Surprisingly, Mintigo discovered that websites for both parties are technology laggards. Of all 519 websites, less than half were using Google Analytics, a common and free tool for measuring website traffic. More sophisticated tools were even less common. Google Analytics is in use on 47 percent of Democrat sites and 49 percent of Republican sites.
To their credit, the candidates are catching up to enterprises in attention paid to social media, even if they’re not quite on par. Reports from July 2012 show 90 percent of the world’s top 100 brands have a presence on Facebook, and 80 percent had a Twitter presence. In this analysis, Mintigo found 75 percent of Republican sites and 74 percent of Democrats referencing or linking to Facebook. Twitter is referenced on 64 and 62 percent, respectively. Only 9 percent of each side referenced or linked to LinkedIn. Political candidates are still lagging behind major brands in getting on board with social media, but not all that far behind.
While it is clear this election season that the two major parties have strong ideological differences, it is interesting to see how those differences manifest in diction. Mintigo’s Customer Search Engine is able to quantify the differences in language, technology, and social networks. Mintigo is also demonstrating that it’s possible to predict party affiliation from small amounts of text. While political organizations can study and improve their use of language throughout a campaign, marketers stand to benefit from these techniques all the time.