In 2016, we’re still a nation very much divided along red state/blue state lines, yet, according to Gallup, a shocking 40% of voters consider themselves independent, far more than those who consider themselves Republican or Democrat.
In a year where we have arguably a more polarizing set of candidates than usual, it will be pivotal for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump to convince the voters in the moderate middle that they are the best candidate to become the next leader of the free world.
Coming into the last 90 days of the elections, in fact, there’s a fair chance that moderates and independents might actually be the deciding factor.
But what do we know about the moderate middle? What issues do they care about? What and who do they like, and how can the candidates best appeal to them?
To better understand these questions, Networked Insights recently looked at an audience of 53K social media users who self-identify as moderate, independent, or undecided – using our analytics platform Kairos to help better understand their affinities, key issues, how they consume media and more.
A Politically Engaged Group
What we found was a population very much in tune with the election and current events and far more engaged with the media and political news sources than the typical user. The massive middle, it turns out, is really getting into it this year.
The Daily Beast and MSNBC, for example, all drove much higher engagement levels with moderates than with the average consumer.
– Moderates engage with political and news media outlets more frequently than the average social media user.
– They are 14.5x more engaged with The Daily Beast, 10.3x more engaged with MSNBC and 45x more engaged with Ana Marie Cox (of Wonkette).
– Moderates are 6.8x more engaged with politicians and 7.8x more engaged with journalists.
– Across thousands of celebrities we track, moderates had the highest affinity levels for politicians and journalists (as opposed, for example, to prominent athletes, musicians, or actors).
What They’re Talking About
Pulling from key voter issues frequently mentioned by Gallup and Pew Research as important both to Democrats and Republicans, we chose five hot button topics and charted how moderates stack up on those issues compared to the general consumer – gun policy, healthcare, immigration, terrorism and the economy.
The top two issues that dominate the conversation among moderates on social media are immigration and terrorism, followed by the economy, health care and gun policy. Moderates are far less concerned about healthcare than the general populus of social users.
For the general consumer, immigration, healthcare and terrorism dominate the conversation, with far less emphasis on gun policy and the economy.
So who’s owning those conversations?
Far and away, moderates associate Donald Trump with immigration the most, with many of those conversations focused on the controversy around Trump’s wife, Melania.
They also talk about him frequently in relation to the economy, with a spike on 8/8, corresponding with the announcement of his economic plan.
On the other hand, political moderates associate Hillary Clinton with terrorism most frequently, with much of the most recent conversations tied to presence of the Orlando shooter’s father at a recent Clinton rally.
The Libertarian Factor
Not surprisingly, moderates are also 15x more engaged with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson compared to the general consumer. Johnson’s numbers with this audience are key, as he could continue to become a growing factor in the election for both candidates.
Networked Insights will continue to monitor the conversation around the 2016 elections, including ongoing data around the massive moderate middle audience.
Want to learn more about how you can identify the right audience, develop the right content and get the right results for your next big campaign? Contact Networked Insights to learn more today.