An analysis by CNN’s Harry Enten has been torched on Twitter for stating the apparently obvious, that social media is almost never a reflection of overall sentiment in the real world.
Enten cites a CNN national poll on the leading Democratic pretenders for the 2020 US presidential election. According to their data, Joe Biden is the frontrunner but Enten argues that you may not know this judging by social media, namely Twitter, as Bernie bros are often the most vocal online.
Enten elaborates that Twitter can often be seen as a second home for many journalists, again highlighting the inherent weaknesses in the social media platform when it comes to “accurately capturing the sentiment of the Democratic electorate.”
There is also the minor inconvenience that Biden has yet to officially announce he is running in the 2020 presidential election.
Social media typically skews in favor of younger voters, Enten argues, leading to a significant age gap in Democratic voters who use Twitter and who cast their ballots at polling station, which can throw off predictions when it comes to sentiment in the party as a whole.
However, this point has been disputed.
For instance, polling in 2016 showed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders ahead by 26 points with voters aged 45 and below. Meanwhile, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was ahead by 32 points among voters aged 45 and above, a demographic which makes up roughly 60 percent of the Democratic party’s electorate.
This may have been why the Democratic Party’s support for Clinton was perceived as such a betrayal of Sanders by many of his ardent supporters.
In addition, liberal-leaning Democrats are far more vocal on social media than their moderate or conservative Democrat counterparts. Overall, the lesson CNN’s Enten is pushing is that social media is not real life, and the vocal partisans online are frequently overshadowed by the silent majority in the real world.
CNN’s methodology drew criticism online, with many pointing to inherent demographic issues within the network’s own viewership and polling sample sets.
Cnn: Try polling enough younger people next time, instead of having “N/A” for all the age groups under 49 for the dem/dem leaning polls.
— chinogenome (@chinogenome1) March 24, 2019
CNN is a has-been with a median viewer age around 60. Younger audiences are looking forward with alternative media and Twitter. Sorry not sorry CNN.
— Jonathan B. Solomon (@JBS_Seattle) March 24, 2019
I agree that we shouldn’t use twitter as a way to “understand” the 2020 Dem primary. I also, however, do think that listening to CNN is a terrible way to “understand” the 2020 Dem primaries. @CNN, start doing fair polls with a representative sample. Then we’ll talk. https://t.co/wtN42acFum
— Joseph (@josephsakata) March 24, 2019
Ok, but also stay off network television.
Just in general.
— A-A-ron H (@armahillo) March 24, 2019
While the organization itself was criticized by several online commentators for biased coverage.
You hired Jeff Sessions spokesperson to run 2020 coverage.
— Zaroc 🍞🌹 (@UndeadZaroc) March 24, 2019
“Want to understand the 2020 Democratic primary? Just listen to our pro-establishment propaganda fed to us by our corporate advertisers and owners.”
— 🥔 Life of Riley 🥔 (@Tidmarsh_in_ID) March 24, 2019
In other words, you want us to only consume sources carefully vetted by the rich Boomer establishment which, deep down, would rather live through four more years of Trump tax cuts than let a real progressive end their reign of corruption. No thanks.
— Rebecca Haninger (@Beatissima) March 24, 2019
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