The last time we checked in on The Three P’s, the final presidential debate had just taken place. That very issue-oriented discussion gave Policy a nice spike in social media, but we weren’t sure how long it would last.
As the graph above shows, it lasted about a day, an emerging pattern. Politics - the horse race - tends to have the greatest share of the social conversation. But occasionally, when either Policy or Personality gets a boost from a specific event such as a debate, it takes the lead for about one day. Then it’s back to Politics, as usual.
Our latest analysis also brings a surprise. For the four-week period shown in the graph, we isolated the social comments of people we’ve previously identified as either strongly Pro-Obama or Pro-Romney (classified as such based on their own previous public comments about the candidates). These are large groups, with tens of thousands in each one.
For these relatively partisan people, we found that during this period Policy had the greatest share of the commentary. As the chart below shows, partisans gave Policy a 48% share of the conversation. Yet among all election commenters, Policy had just a 42% share, while Politics was on top at 44%.
In other words, the very citizens one might expect to be the most political of all, and therefore the most interested in the horse race, turned out to be even more engaged by Policy.
How to explain this? The 6% gap between the two groups isn’t huge, but something has to be driving it. We’re just not sure what. We know partisans tuned in heavily to the debates, which were very issue-driven, and this presumably shaped their comments. Still, it doesn’t explain why they would talk about Policy more than everyone else responding to the same televised exchanges.
If a better explanation emerges as we continue tracking The Three Ps, we’ll let you know.