Image: Wikimedia Image: Wikimedia

The US presidential election has been a major topic of conversation amongst UK social media users, including 700,000 times since the first debate. But although Brits are backing Clinton to the next President, social conversations have been dominated by Donald Trump’s combative campaign.

After analysing posts about the US presidential election made between the first debate and the end of October by UK users of Twitter, blogs and forums, Kantar Media have revealed Great Britain’s attitude towards politics across the pond.

The research found Trump achieved a huge 81% of total share of voice, although 61% of posts about him were from detractors. However, the data reveals a more complex picture than this negativity towards Trump suggests.

Clinton may have been more successful at inspiring positive sentiment, but a huge 57% of posts about her were also disparaging, demonstrating dissatisfaction with both candidates, and the US election as a whole.

In fact, a growing group of UK social media users are supporting Trump because they are anti-Clinton rather than because they are explicitly in favour of his candidacy. And Trump does have pockets of sympathy: almost a fifth (18%) of UK social posts about him were from advocates.

It wasn’t just on social platforms that Trump aroused most interest: UK internet users made 142% more Google searches for general information about him (an average of 1,827,760 searches) than Clinton over the month of September.

The research also suggests that scandals that might ordinarily threaten to derail Clinton’s campaign have been mitigated by more serious revelations about Trump. For example, the appearance on 7th October of footage showing Trump making sexist remarks triggered nearly 30,000 posts from the UK, overshadowing the major leak of sensitive emails from the Clinton campaign just a few days later, and generating twice as many conversations as the announcement of an FBI probe into Clinton on Friday 28th October.

UK social media users have also been attuned to the milestones of the campaign trail. All three presidential debates prompted spikes in the number of conversations about the election as Brits tuned in to or watched clips of the broadcast, with the first debate alone triggering 90,000 posts, although the second and third debates did not excite as much discussion on social platforms as the first.

Marcus Gault, managing Director of social media insight at Kantar Media, said: “Above all, our data demonstrates the bitter taste that the US presidential election has left in the mouths of social media users in the UK. When two-thirds of posts about the election on measured channels are from detractors, neither candidate inspired significant good feeling, and groups of people are supporting a candidate as controversial as Trump because they dislike the alternative, it’s a clear symptom of disillusionment across electorates.

“The data also shows that courting controversy to win popular support and column inches can be a double edged sword. Trump may have by far the largest share of voice on Twitter, forums and blogs, but 61% of posts about him were negative. And the very force he capitalised on to secure the Republican nomination has ensured catastrophes in his campaign have spread at lightning speed, potentially overshadowing obstacles in his rival’s bid for the White House.”

A number of high profile Brits played a big role in shaping the UK’s conversations about the candidates, with comedian Ricky Gervais (@RickyGervais, 11.49 million followers) and entrepreneur Richard Branson (@RichardBranson, 8.69 million followers), clearly coming out strongly in favour of Clinton.

Trump has fewer high profile UK supporters, but Piers Morgan (@PiersMorgan, 5.22 million followers) has often expressed admiration of his campaign without giving an explicit endorsement.

Additional data released today by Kantar Media’s CMAG (Campaign Media Analysis Group) division reveals that Clinton has spent double the amount – over $250 million – on US TV advertising than Trump since the beginning of the year. She topped the list of presidential TV spending, followed by left-leaning organisation Priorities USA Action.