DC Influencer Index: Election Day Update

Rational 360 maintains an exclusive list of 841 influencers, including members of Congress, Cabinet members, media and partisan pundits and strategists. Every month, the firm releases a full Index of online conversation by these influencers on social media during the previous month – which includes an emotion analysis that captures joy, fear, sadness and surprise conveyed in measurable social posts. This analysis is based on the work of research psychologist Paul Eckman, in conjunction with machine learning functionality. This process allows identification of the emotions behind tweets, providing the underlying feeling in online conversations.

Tuesday night, DC establishment logic was turned on its head. The influencers Rational 360 tracks on social media as part of its Influencer Index reflected this, with their joyful posts that dominated early in the day taking a sharp turn toward fear and sadness as the election results became more clear.


DC Influencers tweeted 20,365 times in the 36 hours from midnight, Eastern Time on November 8 through noon on November 9. As has consistently been the case throughout this election cycle, “Trump” was the top keyword in the time period (see figure at right). Florida was the state most discussed by influencers, and the top hashtag was #electionnight.

“Polling” was also a significant topic of conversation among DC Influencers, as they discussed failings of different polls, and whether there was any way to see this turn of events coming. Nearly 3 percent of all influencer posts mentioned polling, some to predict outcomes in the lead-up to election results, while others that noted the discrepancies in polling throughout the cycle.

Of the posts that matched with an emotion, 42 percent of posts expressed joy, 26 percent of posts expressed sadness, 11 percent of posts expressed disgust and 21 percent expressed fear.

Fear and sadness moved in tandem throughout the time period, peaking between 2 and 3 a.m. when the election was officially called for Donald Trump, rising by 59 percent over the previous hour. Representative tweets are included below:

While posts expressing joy steadily increased throughout Tuesday afternoon, they fell off dramatically after 8 p.m. There were 71 percent more joyful posts than fearful and sad posts between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Election Day. By 10 p.m., fearful and sad posts more than doubled joyful posts.

During Hillary Clinton’s concession speech Wednesday morning, influencers posted more joyful posts that any point on Election Day. These posts talked about the pride and gratitude people felt to build a campaign, with influencers on the left and center expressing their appreciation for Clinton and her running mate Tim Kaine, and posts on the right focusing on her acceptance of Trump as President-Elect. Here are a few representative joyful posts that influencers engaged with during this peak period:

Rational 360 is currently conducting a post-election audit of our influencers to account for the changes underway and to come in the administration and Congress. The DC Influencer Index will be expanded and tweaked in the months ahead to ensure it continues to be an accurate reflection of the DC conversation. If you have any questions or want to learn more about our DC Influencer Index or digital monitoring capabilities, please contact us with the information below:

Patrick Dorton, Managing Partner: (202) 429-4952

Rachelle Grey, Digital Director: (202) 499-5241

Collin Berglund, Digital Director: (202) 558-4044

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