Running a political campaign is much like obstacle course running.
It’s long, requires a lot of preparation, and involves jumping over different pitfalls placed along your way. You can’t do much about the length and obstacles. But you can prepare, and you can use all means possible to do it.
Since the most important aim of political campaigns is to influence general opinion, the most valuable info you can have is precisely how this opinion changes with time. And this is what a media monitoring tool can provide.
💡 Read Media Monitoring: The Ultimate Guide
In this blog, we’ll go through all the benefits a media monitoring tool can bring while tracking political campaigns. Then we’ll move on to some practical examples and check out a media monitoring tool in action – through some of the most controversial examples of the 2022 US Midterms.
Benefits of Tracking Political Campaigns with Media Monitoring
If there is one thing that any media monitoring tool can provide, it’s a lot of useful data. And like with any sort of analysis or strategic planning, having the right kind of data can make a huge difference. But let’s start by defining media monitoring.
Media monitoring is the process of gathering, organizing, and analyzing all relevant online mentions of your keyword or keyphrase. This can be a specific person (your candidate or opponent), an organization (e.g. a political party), a specific event (like the 2022 Midterms), or a specific trend.
It functions in a really simple way. You enter the keyword you’re interested in, and you’ll get all online mentions of this keyword into a single dashboard. This includes mentions from online media but also from forums, social media platforms, review pages, etc.
Can you already see how valuable this can be within a political campaign?
Here’s more detail.
Get public opinion – unfiltered.
Polls are an integral part of every political campaign. Be it by independent sources or the media, polls give an overview of public opinion and serve as a great signal when rethinking whether a political campaign is going in the right direction or not. The problem with traditional polls is that they can differ very much depending on the media outlet that publishes them.
With media monitoring, you get clear, unfiltered opinions that your audience shares publicly. You get to hear the voice of the people directly, and you can become an active participant in these conversations.
Read Improve your political campaign with media monitoring
Prevent political crises
Crisis management is an everyday task when you’re working on a political campaign. And one of the crucial factors in successfully mitigating a crisis is reacting on time.
With a media monitoring tool, you can set up real-time alerts whenever a specific keyword is mentioned online and, in that way, get rid of every hot potato coming your way.
Read Political Reputation Management – How to Prevent a Political Crisis with Media Monitoring
Do a competitive analysis
By manually tracking your competitor’s campaign efforts, there’s only so much information you can gather. And even when you manage to do it, you again need to invest additional effort to compare it with your campaign results. Media monitoring tools gather everything with no excpetion and provide different ways you can use this information afterward.
Among many options, you can compare your candidate with your opponents and see immediately which one gets more publicity, the difference in sentiment, channels, engagement, and media outlets covering the stories.
Track the influence of your campaigns
Keeping close relationships with the media is essential when working on a political campaign. Despite that, there was no way to track whether a media outlet published your press release but to check it manually. Until media monitoring came along.
By inserting key expressions into your media monitoring tool, you can easily track which outlets published your press release and check their influence. This will enable you to measure their impact on your campaign and may serve as a valuable compass when deciding which channels make sense for promotion and which don’t.
How does all of this look in practice? Let’s see what we can find out by tracking political campaigns in the States.
US Midterms – an Analysis
Let’s back up a little and start by defining what Midterms are.
Midterm elections (popularly known as the Midterms) are general elections in the USA held typically in the middle of a presidential term. These elections are usually a verdict for the party that holds the White House. And historically, this party usually loses seats. The reason for that is quite simple – promises made during the election campaigns are still fresh, and it’s very easy to compare them to what the party has actually done. And promises and reality are very often quite different.
During the Midterms most of the attention is focused on two chambers of the US Congress – the House of Representatives and the Senate. How is this important?
Congress is a legislative body in the USA, and it has the power to make laws. For a bill to become law, both chambers need to agree, so if a certain political option controls both, it will certainly be much easier to pass legislation they think is right. This is especially important when it comes to deciding on matters that impact many people, like abortion, gun control, voting rights, etc.
Read PR in Politics: 5 Key PR Steps to Keep You on the Right Track
Midterms 2022 – What’s at stake?
At the start of 2022, the biggest issues debated in US politics were immigration, crime, the rise in gas prices, and the overall cost of living. All topics were vote-winners for conservative Republicans. It seemed as if the outcome of these Midterms was going to be as expected – president Biden’s Democrats were bound to lose, and the Republicans would have taken over both chambers of Congress.
But the winds slightly changed in June with Roe vs. Wade being dismissed and the Supreme Court overturning national abortion protection. This act only encouraged 20% of independent female voters to vote Democrat. In addition, talks on LGBTQ+ rights, voting rights, and gun control increased, gas prices have fallen, and president Biden made a couple of significant moves (like student loan reliefs and passing the Inflation Reduction Act), including harshening his rhetorics against MAGA Republicans. To top it all, ex-president Trump got a visit from the FBI – his house was searched, and he got accused of stealing classified documents from the White House, thus further damaging the reputation of Republicans.
Let’s see how both parties did, PR-wise, in this not-so-foreseeable political race.
Tracking Political Campaigns: Examples
We’ll take a couple of the most controversial election races from the 2022 Midterms and take a look at their course through Determ, a media monitoring tool.
Pennsylvania Senate Race
Pennsylvania’s US Senate election saw a battle between Democrat John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, and Republican Mehmet Oz, a surgeon and TV personality who became famous through the Oprah show. In a state sending Republican senators to the Senate since 1962, Fetterman managed to flip the seat and bring one of the crucial victories for the Democrats during these Midterms. Being a rather unconventional candidate, Fetterman used the power of social media in a completely new and fresh way and made sure that he was the talk of the state among all age groups and to a much greater extent than Dr. Oz.
This included posting content on numerous platforms including TikTok, participating in viral challenges, posting unexpected endorsement videos and to a greater extent making fun of his opponent, dr. Oz.
While tracking political campaigns, we could notice that both candidates used pretty harsh rhetoric, with Fetterman accusing his opponent of being an elitist carpetbagger with radical views on abortion and Dr. Oz accusing Fetterman of being a socialist with not enough stance to fight crime. In one of the last debates, 2 weeks before the elections, Dr. Oz questioned whether Fetterman suffered a stroke back in June, causing a huge backlash online.
These attacks ultimately didn’t land on fertile ground. On the contrary, judging by our sentiment chart, they brought a lot of plus points to Fetterman, who ultimately won the election and will be Pennsylvania’s senator in the next term.
Read How to Do Social Media Sentiment Analysis in Politics
Georgia Senate Race
Georgia Senate race came down to two candidates – Republican Herschel Walker, ex-football player and pro-life supporter, endorsed by Trump, and Democrat Raphael Warnock, an American pastor and politician, and a strong supporter of Medicaid. After November 8th none of the candidates gained more than 50% of votes and they’re up for a run-off on December 6th.
Still, the course of this race was incredibly interesting from the start and there might be an indication of who will be winning the run-off in the media monitoring data.
If we look at the number of mentions of both candidates from the start of October, we can see an incredibly big difference in favor of Herschel Walker. But once we go into more detail, we can see that though mentioned more, he wasn’t mentioned in a good way.
Read How to Create a Political Campaign Checklist with Media Monitoring
Herschel Walker, an ex-football player, entered politics by running his first political campaign in Georgia’s 2022 Senate election and he won the Republican nomination with 68% of the vote. In May 2022 he expressed clearly that he opposed abortion and that he considered that there shouldn’t be any exceptions to abortion bans. Beginning of October, the Daily Beast published accusations made by a woman who said that Walker paid for her abortion back in 2009. This event caused a huge spike in mentions and gave enough reason for debate on various online platforms. Further spikes in mentions signify Herschel Walker’s attempts to amend the situation as well as periodical increases of other commentators on the scandal.
So despite having many more mentions than Raphael Warnock, this surplus happened mainly because of the scandal that brought serious damage to his reputation. When we look at the sentiment analysis graph, we can see that there are considerably more negative mentions than positive ones when we talk about Herschel Walker. The graph looks pretty different in Warnock’s case.
Read 5 Political PR Metrics to Monitor During a Campaign
Does this signify Warnock’s win in the runoff? Let’s wait and see.
Democrats vs Republicans
As mentioned, the Republicans, being the party opposing President Biden’s Democrats, were expected to win these Midterms without a lot of effort. The stakes were very much in their favor at the beginning of the year, but the cards were played differently during the summer. The Democrats rose, economic trends went slightly in Biden’s favor, and by offering a liberal view of LGBTQ+ and abortion rights, as well as healthcare and a stricter view upon gun laws, they managed to mobilize younger voters and turn the game in their favor.
If we take a look at the number of mentions of both parties since the beginning of September, there are slightly more mentions of Republicans in connection with Midterms:
But if we take a closer look at the mentions, we can see that there was much debate about why the Republicans didn’t achieve the result they were so sure of, and we didn’t see a “red wave” coming.
Read The Importance of Political Social Media Strategy
All of this contributed to predominantly negative sentiment in relation to the Republicans in the past 2 months. On the other hand, the Democrats see slightly more positive mentions, which can be seen in the graph below:
Biden vs Trump
Can we already guess what that means for the presidential election in 2024? Hardly likely, since a year and a half in politics means a lifetime. But we can definitely observe the trends.
If we take a look at the mentions of Donald Trump over time, judging by the spikes we can conclude that he constantly finds ways to become the talk of online platforms.
Since the opposing party usually wins the Midterms, this serves to fuel the upcoming presidential campaign. Especially the one from the presidential candidate of the opposing party. Since these Midterms didn’t bring the much-awaited positive result for the Republicans, and many of the candidates Trump endorsed lost the race, it will be interesting to see the course of Trump’s candidacy and campaign. What we can say already, Trump has gained a powerful opponent in the race for the Republican candidacy. It’s Florida’s senator DeSantis who is mentioned very frequently next to Trump.
Tracking political campaigns, especially during elections, gives you an incredible advantage. You get unfiltered results from all your and your opponents’ PR efforts in one clear dashboard. And this is what it ultimately comes down to. Listening to the people and doing your best to fulfil their expectations.
This is where a good media monitoring tool like Determ is essential. If you’re interested to see it in action, we have a 7-day-free trial, try it out!