5 Things Social Media Can Tell Us About Last Night’s Election

While a winner still hasn’t been announced in the presidential election, the data showing the social media reaction to election day is already in. Here’s what you need to know about the audience reaction to Election Day. 

Insight #1. Donald Trump Dominated The Election Day Conversation On Twitter 

In the United States, there were 3,897,697 Tweets mentioning Donald Trump on November 3, 2020; which was 93% more than the 2,019,422 Tweets that mentioned Joe Biden on the day. Whatever the result of the election, the social media data indicates that it was a referendum on Donald Trump, as opposed to people focusing on Joe Biden’s qualifications.  

Social media is often a key indicator of the level of enthusiasm for a candidate. Even when the polls showed Trump behind Biden, the enthusiasm and passion that people have for Trump played out on social. When you combine that with traditional polls, we would have had a better idea of how tight this race was going to be.

Insight #2. The Social Audience Was More Anxious On Election Day Than At Any Other Point This Year   


There were 343,706 Tweets mentioning Anxiety on November 3, 2020, the single highest total for the term all year. That’s also up 80% from the 190,741 Tweets mentioning Anxiety on November 8, 2016, with the big difference being that during the last election cycle, the winner was determined the night of the election. 

Insight #3. The Audience Isn’t Threatening To Move To Canada Yet 

On November 8, 2020, there were 41,078 Tweets in the United States talking about moving to Canada. With the results still unknown, there were only 4,066 Tweets in the United States on November 3, 2020, talking about moving to Canada. 

Insight #4. Voter Fraud Was Not A Significant Storyline On Social 

While President Trump asserted in the lead up to the election that using absentee ballots would create massive voting fraud, there wasn’t substantial uptick in conversation on the topic this year compared to election day in 2016. There were 49,471 Tweets discussing Voter Fraud on November 3, 2020 in the United States; a 26% increase compared to on November 8, 2016, when there were 39,121 Tweets discussing Voter Fraud. 

Insight #5. Backlash Aimed At Pollsters


When the polling ahead of the election showing Biden with a big national lead didn’t translate to a landslide victory, the social media took pollsters to task. For instance, Nate Silver, the most prominent pollster, was mentioned in 50,643 Tweets in the United States on November 3, 2020. Sentiment around those Tweets was 38% Negative compared to 14% Positive, with 17% of the Tweets expressing the emotion of Anger.

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Social Insights Around The Final Presidential Debate

With Donald Trump and Joe Biden having just wrapped up their second and final debate together, ListenFirst decided to take a closer look and see what social analytics could tell us about the two candidates’ performances, the topics that stood out, and what the social media audience is talking about most.  

First Impressions Mattered More Around The Presidential Debates 

There were 787,741 Tweets using the official #Debates2020 hashtag on October 22, 2020 in the United States. In comparison, there were 1,316,265 Tweets using the #Debates2020 hashtag on September 29, 2020; around the first presidential debate.

Sentiment Around Trump Was Less Negative Compared To The Previous Debate 

There were 3,199,419 Tweets in the United States that mentioned Donald Trump on October 22, 2020 around the second debate which -43% less Tweets than the 5,626,707 that mentioned him on September 29, 2020, the day of the first debate. Still, Twitter sentiment around Donald Trump was 44% Negative and 14% Positive the day of the first debate, with that improving to 40% Negative and 18% Positive the day of the second debate. He generated less Tweets the second time around, because the Twitter audience viewed his performance as more steady. 

Joe Biden has less variance on Twitter around the two debates. On September 29, 2020, there were 3,507,702 Tweets mentioning him, with sentiment around those Tweets being 44% Negative and 11% Positive. On October 22, 2020; Biden was mentioned in 3,126,047 Tweets with sentiment for those Tweets being 42% Negative and 12% Positive.

It appears the more civil second debate benefited both candidates; there was less negative conversation around Trump, while Biden was mentioned in a greater share of the online conversation compared to the first debate.

Trump Still Picking Up More New Followers on Debate Night 

On the day of both debates, Trump outperformed Biden by every owned social metric. Joe Biden generated 112,211 new fans or followers on social media and 3,609,228 responses to the content he posted on September 29, 2020 with Biden receiving 94,228 new fans or followers and 3,714,619 responses to the content he posted on October 22, 2020.   

In contrast, on September 29, 2020, Donald Trump generated 135,541 new fans or followers on social media and 10,928,044 responses to the content he posted. Meanwhile on October 22, 2020; he generated 115,227 new social media fans or followers with the content he posted receiving 11,864,718 responses on the day. 

On Twitter, Biden Was More Linked To Hunter Than Trump Was To The Coronavirus

During the second debate, Joe Biden’s biggest line of attack was trying to blame Trump for the coronavirus response while Donald Trump attempted to steer the conversation to Biden’s son Hunter. It appears that Donald Trump was more successful at influencing the social media conversation. There were 290,061 Tweets in the United States that mentioned both Joe and Hunter Biden on October 22, 2020, with sentiment around those Tweets being 41% Negative and 8% Positive. Overall, there were 751,872 global Tweets mentioning both Joe and Hunter Biden on October 22, meaning 61% of the Tweets talking about the two were coming from outside of the United States.  

Meanwhile, there were only 141,439 Tweets that mentioned both Donald Trump and the Coronavirus on October 22, 2020 in the United States, with sentiment around those Tweets being 45% Negative and 12% Positive. 

There Was A Negative Response On Social To Biden’s Oil Policy 

Perhaps the biggest policy news to come out of the second presidential debate was that Joe Biden wanted in the long term to transition away from the oil industry. It was not well received on Twitter. In the United States on October 22, 2020 there were 145,430 Tweets mentioning Joe Biden and either Oil or Fracking, with Twitter sentiment around those Tweets being 42% Negative and 6% Positive. 23% of the Tweets expressed the emotion of Anger specifically. 

Twitter Panned Both Presidential Debate Moderators 

Being the moderator of a presidential debate remains a rather thankless role. On television Kristen Welker received great reviews for her moderation of the second debate, for instance Chris Wallace admitted he was jealous that Welker got to moderate a debate where there weren’t hundreds of interruptions. However on Twitter, sentiment around both moderators was overwhelmingly negative. 

There were 932,190 Tweets that mentioned Chris Wallace in the United States on September 29, 2020 with Twitter sentiment around him being 51% Negative and 13% Positive. Meanwhile there were 126,402 Tweets that mentioned the moderator Kristen Welker in the United States on October 22, 2020; with sentiment around those Tweets being 46% Negative and 17% Positive.      

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How Brands Are Using Social Media To Talk About The Elections

It’s less than a 100 days until the Presidential election occurs, and we wanted to check in with brands to see how they’re using their social media channels to promote getting out the vote campaigns. While it wasn’t necessarily a frequent topic of conversation among brands, of the 485 Top Advertiser Brands we looked at between June 28 – July 28, 2020; we did identify some key strategies for how these brands are using social media to encourage the audience to do their civic duty and participate in the November 3 elections. 

Strategy #1: Framing Voting As Empowering 

ABC generated 683 responses around a July 4th Instagram video post in conjunction with the nonpartisan I am a voter.® movement promoting voting and civic engagement, which reminded people of all the races at stake this November, along with a prompt to register to vote and sign up for election reminders. It’s worth noting that the CTA included the full URL to the I am a voter.® website, even though Instagram doesn’t allow clickable links in posts. Even without a live link, it’s easy enough for users to cut and paste the link. 

Tying the act of voting to a holiday like Independence Day, reinforces how patriotic individuals can impact change, and such a strategy makes sense both in general and also around upcoming holidays like Labor Day.     

Strategy #2: Celebrity Advocacy

“Our voices matter. Our votes matter. Local officials are the ones that set the laws in your community.” John Wall on the importance of local elections and voting. #NBAVoices

Posted by NBA on Saturday, July 4, 2020

Hearing a respected public figure talk around the need to get out and vote sometimes helps brands grab the audience’s attention in a way, a more generic message wouldn’t. For instance the NBA received 817 responses around a Facebook video where John Wall talked about the importance of voting in local elections. Getting a familiar face to speak from the heart about why voting is important to them will help drive home the point for the social media audience. 

Strategy #3: Reassure About Safety 

New guidance from the CDC says the best ways to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread during the November elections are…

Posted by AARP on Monday, July 13, 2020

Unlike any other election in recent memory, because of the coronavirus, people could literally be risking their lives by going to the polls. The AARP received 1,934 reponses around a Facebook link to a post addressing those issues, sharing the latest CDC recommendations for voting safely in the November elections. Especially with older voters, explaining how voters can participate on Election Day with the minimal risk to their health is valuable information that brands can share. 

Strategy #4: Speak Directly To Your Employees 

Between June 28 – July 28, 2020; the U.S. Army shared 3 posts about how service members can vote via absentee ballot which averaged 7,403 responses per post. These types of brand posts serve two types of functions; giving employees invaluable information about how they can vote abroad while also illustrating to customers and potential employees that voting is something that your brand values. 

Strategy #5: Celebrate The 19th Amendment

There were 3 social media posts between June 28 – July 28, 2020 by the United States Postal Service that generated 1,536 responses advertising stamps commemorating women getting the right to vote. While selling stamps is a tactic pretty specific to the Post Office, using the history of voting rights to motivate people to vote in the present day, is a social media strategy that’s relevant to a much wider range of brands.   


Social media is a big part of how brands stay part of the cultural conversation and as we get close to November, the election is going to be more and more what everyone is talking about. By urging the social media audience to take part in the Democratic process, brands can stay top of mind, while also contributing a public service. 

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