A lot has been written about the role of digital in the current US election, and how it differs from 2008. There are many media pieces and blog posts about which candidate is out-digitizing the others, and others which look at which candidate is the most talked about.

What about issues?

I’ve been using Marketwire/Sysomos Heartbeat to capture and analyze online chatter about the US election and using manually selected keywords to identify key election-related conversations. Based on my analysis, I’ve identified the top six most-discussed election issues during the first 19 days of this month:

  1. Economy
  2. Health
  3. Employment
  4. Defense
  5. Bain Capital
  6. Same sex relationships


The remainder of the analysis in this post depends on participants publicly sharing information about themselves in their online profiles. Specifically, the analysis depends on participants sharing their home state, gender and age. Of the three data points, age is the least shared identifier. So, where location and gender offer meaningful sample sizes, age is a bit of a stretch for this analysis. Still, I think there is some anecdotal merit to the distribution of participation according to age.


Sysomos identifies the five states most actively discussing each issue. New York leads all states in online discussions on four of the six identified issues; economy, health, employment and Bain Capital. California leads in discussions about defense and same sex relationships.


My own research over the last three years has shown online discussions about North American political issues tend to skew 68% male, 32% female. Where the gender analysis is interesting is in the statistical deviations from that trend. For example, data in this US election analysis show women are more active in the discussion about health (37%) and less in the discussion about defense (27%).


As noted above, age data is less reliable due to the low numbers of disclosure. The analysis shows in nearly all of the top six discussed election issues, the most politically-concerned age group is 51 or over. The exception is on matters of same sex relationships in which the 36-50 group is just as concerned.

The most important issues to both the 36-50 and 21-35 age groups are the economy, health and employment. The 20-and-under age group is essentially absent from online discussions about political issues.

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