Analysing Trump and Clinton social media visuals to get under the skin of likely voters

We have been using advanced metrics to benchmark and derive consumer visual preferences for drinks, fashion, jewellery, automotive and beauty brands. (Here is a recent example about H&M flat lays) Can similar analyses on political visuals shed light on likely voter preferences?

These are the visuals featured in the posts that received the biggest engagement spike vs average in the past 31 days

The above mosaics provide some insight into the communication strategy of the campaigns as well as the mood of their respective voters. It’s by now trivial to say that Trump likely voters are disgruntled, that they are much more against things than for anything (walls, guns and red caps excluded).  But the contrast with the Clinton mosaic couldn’t be starker, where visuals featuring smiles and children do best (note that 3 of the 4 top performing visuals featured a child).

This suggests that the Clinton camp should resist the temptation of going negative, and should instead run a positive campaign, focusing on hope and the future. (Something Obama concluded in 2008.) Meanwhile, expect the Trump campaign to continue disparaging the other side, not just because it doesn’t have much to say about its own policies, but more importantly because that’s what mobilises its likely voters. 

Looking back at the Brexit campaigns in the UK last month (where similarities in voter profiles are hard to miss), it would seem the Leave camp was right to focus on negatives and fear. On the other hand, the Remain In campaign was strategically off target by choosing to make threats: their campaign wasn’t about being a part of Europe, it was about avoiding a separation from Europe. Who knows what would have happened had they adopted a more optimistic and hopeful view, focusing on the positives of staying in the Union?

The mosaics echo recent results from a Pew survey showing that, among White Evangelicals, more Trump likely voters “mainly vote against Clinton” than they “mainly vote for Trump.”