Breaking down the Tim Kaine – George Allen Senate Race by buzz

By JD Chang

With a week to go till Election Day, we’ll do a special breakdown on a specific race each day. Today we look at the Virginia Senate race between Tim Kaine (Dem) and George Allen (Rep).

The latest RCP polling average shows Kaine with a small lead of 2%.

TrendPo Rank shows the same tight race with Kaine ranked TR-120 and Allen ranked TR-145.

Furthermore, TrendPo Rank’s historical graph of this race matches with the RCP polls since the beginning of October. See both graphs showing that Kaine had a larger lead at the beginning of October that has shrunk in the last week.

(RCP Polls since beginning of October)

(TrendPo Rank for last 60 days)

So why did Tim Kaine’s lead shrink?
Let’s break down the news, social, and sentiment numbers for both politicians:

(National Media)

(Beltway Media)

Both are very close in the national press and the beltway press, gaining more exposure starting around mid-September.

The sentiment numbers are little more telling. TrendPo’s sentiment tracker scores every article on these politicians from a range of 1 (low) to 10 (high). This chart shows the average sentiment score against all articles written about each politician that day. A lot of times both politicians are mentioned in the same article so the sentiment value will be the same. But for articles in which one is mentioned without the other, this chart can show a sentiment difference score.

You can see that around the beginning of October, Tim Kaine had sentiment scores above 5 while George Allen was consistently below 5. During this time, Kaine gained a large lead against Allen in both the RCP polling average and the TrendPo Rank. Since then, Kaine and Allen are tracking a little closer together in sentiment values which also mirror the closing gaps in polling.


Looking at social numbers, George Allen has more FB likes on his Facebook page but the momentum of adding Facebook Likes is pretty much even between the candidates. However, just yesterday, Kaine gained a large number of Facebook Talked Abouts on his page — a much larger number than average, and a number that’s putting some ground between him and Allen.

(Facebook Likes)

(Facebook Gap = The gain or loss in Facebook Talked Abouts on their Facebook page)
We see the same spike in Twitter Gap as well.

(Twitter Gap = Number of added or lost Twitter followers each day)

So what did Tim Kaine do over the weekend to bump up his social numbers? We think it’s this post on his FB profile which got 53 shares, 728 likes, and 37 comments. This is more than his average post on FB which is around 2-10 shares, 50-150 likes, and 5-20 comments.

What does this all mean?

We think that it means the Virginia Senate race between Tim Kaine v. George Allen is fairly even in news coverage and used to trend for Kaine in sentiment but that seems to have evened out. However, Kaine gained some more social users over the weekend and with the election one week away, any added social presence will just help Kaine get out his vote more and energize his supporters.*
If these trends continue over the next week, we would call the VA race for Tim Kaine in a narrow victory.

* This will be even more important in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Social presence is crucial to getting people who may be displaced by the hurricane to come out to the ballot boxes prior to Nov. 6th.


National Media includes: WSJ, LATimes, NYTimes, WaPo, HuffPost, Fox News, CNN, USA Today
Beltway Media includes: Politico, The Hill, Roll Call
FB Likes is the number of Facebook Likes on each person’s page.
Facebook Talked Abouts is the number of unique users who have created a story about a page in a 7 day period.
TW Gap is the number of Twitter Followers gained each day on each person’s Twitter account.

(You can see all of TrendPo Pro’s chart data by subscribing to a free TrendPo Pro user account)


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