If you are like me, you have been following the U.S. Presidential election with some interest. As a person who trains others in the use and value of measures and data this election has given me much to explore.
The Changing Role of Polls
As you know polls play a role in elections. In his book "Revolt of the Masses" Ortega y Gasset explores what modern society would look like moving into our century. On one point he speculates that due to the number of details the average citizen would need in order to make an informed choice they would turn to the polls to tell them what their fellow citizens thought and seek to fall into step with their peers.
Polls then could potentially have two purposes; to genuinely reflect the views of a group and potentially, to influence the views of a group. We have seen both instances in this election cycle and a lot of discussion regarding the veracity of each groups polling methods.
What About Social Media?
I decided that I would look to see who was doing something different this time around. Since it is having an ever increasing impact I looked at social media. On Facebook Trump has 12.2M likes and Hillary has 8.2M. On Twitter Trump has 13M followers and Hillary has 10.3M. On YouTube Donald Trump has 151K subscribers for his page and speeches and Hillary has 136K. Do these numbers give us a compelling narrative or do they muddy the waters because they contradict current polling data?
Is There Really A Silent Majority?
And what about the oft whispered about "Silent Majority"? This has become something of a recent phenomenon with the assertion that negative media treatment of Trump and his basket of "deplorables” has driven his support underground.
I looked hard to find any polling company who were trying to get a measure of this and finally found one, the Trafalgar Group. They used a rather novel approach; kept the interview short - under two minutes, used a computer generated voice for each call (their thinking was that people would be more comfortable giving information to a machine rather than a person - interesting!) and they threw in an extra question regarding who they thought their neighbours were voting for. This was their attempt to try and tease out that "silent majority" by letting the responder project their vote onto their neighbour.
They used this method to accurately predict the primary races so there is a suggestion at least this may be a valid approach. What was interesting is that in every state this question gave Trump an average of a 4% boost and a corresponding drop for Hillary. Gaps were typically around 12 points. They noted too that in not one instance was there a hidden vote for Hillary. Is this a valid measure? We will know by tomorrow!
Do We Have The Measures That Tell Us What We Need To Know?
Regardless of where you stand on the choices of this election what is becoming increasingly clear is the need for data, and measures that are useful. The same is true in business and operations. You need data and measures that give you a clear picture of how you and your team are doing and where the gaps are. Performance Leadership - Think About It!