Why do we need a Newspaper for the 2020 US Primaries and Presidential Election?
Daniel Kreiss’s excellent book Prototype Politics exemplifies how digital communications and data are at the frontier of US political campaigns. When the book was published targeted social media advertising libraries did not exist. In 2016 Presidential Election more than $1 billion was invested on digital political advertising, yet journalists and voters had no way of analysing what these adverts were or to whom they were being delivered. Since 2018 Facebook, Google and Snapchat have provided public access to social media advertising libraries. The 2020 primaries will, for the first time, let the public actively monitor the quality and quantity of adverts being targeted on Social Media.
A newspaper is therefore needed to provide rigorous analysis and research from students that have studied platform technologies. The UK election was run on a far smaller scale. The total spend on Google was thought to be around £1.6 million. By contrast, in the exact same time period Mike Bloomberg alone invested £1.5 million more on Google advertising. During the UK 2019 election I worked with two researchers (and four developers) to provide effective coverage of digital advertising. By contrast the scale of the US election demands far more help. Kreiss, the US expert on data driven campaigning, admitted that there is no body dedicated to monitoring social media advertising for the 2020 Democratic primaries. Therefore it is necessary to create a newspaper dedicated to covering political social media communications. In turn, this will ensure effective transparency and accountability for the Democratic Primaries and later for the Presidential election.
Targeted Advertising Libraries to study:
Facebook: During the 2019 British General Election approximately 64% of targeted advertising spend was on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. Between the 15th and the 25th $4,112,029.
Google: During the 2019 British General Election approximately 24.5% of targeted advertising was on Google and Youtube Between the 3rd of November and the 15th of December approximately $18 million dollars has been spent by Democratic candidates. Unlike the British Election Google seems to be the most popular format for targeted advertisement investment.
Snap Chat: During the 2019 Britsh General Election approximately 1.3% of targeted advertising was on SnapChat. At the last reading only three democratic candidates were targeting on SnapChat. Buttigieg was the highest spender on $34,746. Warren second with $2447. Biden on just $500. During the Uk General Election major parties invested £84,8410 advertising on the social media platform.
Themes to study:
Locational Microtargetting: We can view what states candidates are targetting provding us with key insights into what states candidates are focussing on. For instance, of 266 climate change adverts, Mike Bloomberg targeted 95.1% at Super Tuesday states, 1.5% at South Carolina, 1.5% at Maine and 1.9% at Nevada, emphasising how he is mainly concerned with campaigning on for Super Tuesday.
Demographic Microtargetting: which sex and age groups are being targeted by certain themes. For instance are negative adverts being targeted at males?
Climate Change: The Green New Deal/Paris Accord/Carbon Neutral. Tom Steyer said that CC was his number one priority.
Cult of Personality
Criticism: of Trump? Of other primary candidates? Between the 14th and 20th 15.9% of Bernie Sanders adverts mentioned billionaires. Could this be seen as a swipe on Bloomberg or the fact Warren and Buttigieg have around 83 billionaires backing the two of them.
Non-Party groups: In the UK election Non-Party pro Remain groups invested 20x more than Leave, this has the ability to swing the election and focus politicians on certain topics. Between the 22nd of November and the 21st of December of the top 100 Facebook political advertisers $2,502,565 are invested in either actively condemning or supporting Democrats or Republicans. Non-Party Pro Democratic advertising totalled $1,779,227 while Non-Party Pro Republican advertising equalled $723,338.
Political Endorsements: which figures are featured endorsing certain candidates. Between the 14th and 20th of December 20 Bernie adverts featured Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.
Social Media following: Measure the social media accounts of politicians on different dates and view the way they have gained followers. This could be done weekly on FB, Insta, Twitter and YouTube. Then create graphs.
Monitoring organic social media posting: in 2016 Trump’s Twitter was one of the most important arms for his electoral victory. It is therefore important to follow the above themes through posts on FB, Insta, Twitter and YouTube.
Monitoring the overall press coverage of targeted advertisements through everything that’s posted on: https://advertisinganalyticsllc.com/category/our-staff/
– Quantitative overviews can be provided by one person based on the CSV provided by Google, Facebook, .
– Qualitative researching needs to be divided between individuals. For instance one individual may have Biden/Klobuchar; Warren/Buttigieg. There are 11 candidates and therefore we probably should have at least three people doing qualitative research into policies/microtargeting, social media followings on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc.
– Create a medium page/blog/website that will exhibit all these ideas. I have already talked with the BBC and the Times and they are interested in this work.
– Provide weekly quantitative reports on Google and Facebook spend
– To understand levels of A/B testing get a Google Ad Sheet and manually record the number of adverts and amount being spent by Presidential candidates. In the case of the Facebook political ad library breaking this will provide a manual store to measure the investment numbers provided by the social media company. In the case of the UK election Facebook lost up to £750,000 pounds worth of adverts.
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Caucus and Primary calendar:
- February 2: No-excuse, in-person absentee voting in the Maine primary begins.
- February 3:
- February 7: The eighth Democratic debate will take place in Goffstown, New Hampshire at Anselm College.
- February 11: New Hampshire primary
- February 12: Early voting in the Tennessee primary
- February 13: Early voting in the North Carolina primary
- February 15: Early voting in the Nevada caucuses
- February 15–17: The Moving America Forward Infrastructure Forum will be held at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, by the IUOE, ASCE, TWUA, ARTBA, APTA, AEM, and other groups. Infrastructure policy will be discussed, with a focus on transportation, water, and broadband issues.
- February 17: Early voting in the Arkansas primary
- February 18:
- February 19:
- February 21: Voting in the Washington primary
- February 22: Nevada caucuses
- February 24:
- February 25:
- February 27: No-excuse, in-person absentee voting in the Oklahoma primary
- February 28: Early voting in the Massachusetts, Texas and Utah primaries ends.
- February 29:
- March 2:
- March 3:
- March 9: No-excuse, in-person absentee voting in the Michigan primary ends.
- March 10: March 10 primaries
- March 13: Early voting in the Arizona primary ends.
- March 14: Northern Mariana Islands caucuses
- March 17: March 17 primaries
- March 24: Georgia primary
- March 29: Puerto Rico primary
- April 4: April 4 primaries
- April 7: Wisconsin primary
- April 28: April 28 primaries
- April 29: Voting in the Oregon primary
- July 13-16: Democratic National Convention, in which delegates of the Democratic Party will choose the party’s nominees for president and vice president in the general election