Infographic: The Year in News 2016
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The Year in News 2016

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The Year in News 2016

The Year in News 2016

As an election year, 2016 was unequivocally political in nature.

It seemed like Donald Trump, Wikileaks, and so-called “fake news” dominated headlines throughout the year, regardless of what was going on in the world.

But how did the news cycle actually break down from a quantitative perspective?

For the second year in a row, we look to Echelon Insights for their infographic that analyzes the year’s news based on data from over two billion tweets.

Trumping the Conversation

While it is certainly no surprise that Donald Trump dominated the majority of political conversations, the actual numbers help to provide more clarity to this claim.

Trump consistently accounted for about 40-60% of the share of candidate mentions for the majority of the year leading up to the election, even during the primaries. Most of the time, this was roughly double that of Hillary Clinton’s share of mentions.

After November 8th, Trump mentions skyrocketed to make up nearly 80% of all candidate mentions.

Even though many of these mentions were of the negative variety, Trump proved that all publicity is good publicity. Trump’s statements got non-stop media coverage and social engagement, giving the Trump campaign a name recognition and mind share advantage. And ultimately, despite several controversial statements, this allowed his key messages to get relayed to the electorate where they were needed.

WikiLeaked

Hillary Clinton and the DNC also received no shortage of bad press – and these ended up being the two most-talked about “scandals” of the year by Twitter users in the U.S.

Here are the top 10 political controversies, and their number of mentions in 2016:

  1. WikiLeaks/Hacking: 33,083,038
  2. Clinton’s Emails: 21,123,778
  3. Deplorables: 5,989,433
  4. Electoral College: 5,330,993
  5. Trump Tapes: 5,212,502
  6. Voter Fraud: 4,789,013
  7. Abedin/Weiner: 3,758,636
  8. Fake News: 3,358,189
  9. Steve Bannon: 3,108,580
  10. Trump’s Taxes: 2,688,991

The original DNC leak from WikiLeaks in late-July prompted the resignation of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz over allegations of the DNC undermining the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Meanwhile, the 50,000 emails from John Podesta were made available to the public in smaller tranches in October and November. The end result of this smart release strategy was that WikiLeaks and the hacks stayed in the news throughout the year, making it the top political controversy story (in terms of U.S. tweets) in 2016.

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Politics

Which Countries are the Most Polarized?

This chart plots polarization for various countries based on the Edelman Trust Institute’s annual survey of 32,000+ people.

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Which Countries are the Most Polarized?

How do you measure something that’s made headlines for half a decade but is still difficult to quantify? We’re talking about polarization.

Even within the social sciences, polarization covers everything from racial segregation, to labor skill levels, to class divide, to political ideology.

How Do You Quantify Polarization?

Edelman’s data on which countries are the most polarized comes from survey results asking respondents two very simple questions:

  • How divided is their country?
  • How entrenched is the divide?

The questions help bring to light the social issues a particular country is facing and the lack of consensus on those issues.

Plotted against each other, a chart emerges. A country in the top–right corner of the chart is “severely polarized.” Countries located closer to the lower–left are considered less polarized.

In the report, Edelman identifies four metrics to watch for and measure which help quantify polarization.

Economic AnxietiesWill my family be better off in five years?
Institutional ImbalanceGovernment is viewed as unethical and incompetent.
Class DividePeople with higher incomes have a higher trust in institutions.
Battle for TruthEcho chambers, and a low trust in media.

Following Edelman’s metrics, countries with economic uncertainty and inequality as well as institutional distrust are more likely to be polarized. Below, we look at key highlights from the chart.

Severely Polarized Countries

Despite being one of the largest economies in Latin America, Argentina is the most polarized country surveyed by a large margin. Foreign loan defaults, a high fiscal deficit, and now surging inflation have created a perfect storm in the country.

43% of the Argentinian respondents said they will be better off in five years, down 17 percentage points from last year.

Along with fiscal upheaval, Argentinians are also dealing with enduring corruption in the public sector and abrupt policy reversals between governments. Only 20% of those surveyed in Argentina said they trusted the government—the least of all surveyed countries.

Here are all six of the countries considered to be severely polarized:

    🇦🇷 Argentina
    🇨🇴 Colombia
    🇺🇸 United States
    🇿🇦 South Africa
    🇪🇸 Spain
    🇸🇪 Sweden

In the U.S., heightened political upheaval between Democrats and Republicans over the last few years has led to strengthening ideological stances and to an abundance of headlines about polarization. Only 42% of respondents in the country trust the government.

And in South Africa, persistent inequality and falling trust in the African National Congress also check off Edelman’s metrics. It’s also second after Argentina with the least trust in government (22%) per the survey.

Moderately Polarized Countries

The biggest cluster of 15 countries are in moderately polarized section of the chart, with all continents represented.

    🇧🇷 Brazil
    🇰🇷 South Korea
    🇲🇽 Mexico
    🇫🇷 France
    🇬🇧 United Kingdom
    🇯🇵 Japan
    🇳🇱 Netherlands
    🇮🇹 Italy
    🇩🇪 Germany
    🇳🇬 Nigeria
    🇹🇭 Thailand
    🇰🇪 Kenya
    🇨🇦 Canada
    🇦🇺 Australia
    🇮🇪 Ireland

Some are on the cusp of being severely polarized, including economic heavyweights like Japan, the UK, France, and Germany. On the other hand, smaller economies like Thailand, Kenya, and Nigeria, are doing comparatively better on the polarization chart.

Less Polarized Countries

Countries with fair economic outlook and high trust in institutions including China, Singapore, and India are in the bottom left sector of the chart.

    🇮🇩 Indonesia
    🇨🇳 China
    🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates
    🇸🇬 Singapore
    🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia
    🇲🇾 Malaysia
    🇮🇳 India

It’s interesting to note that of the seven countries in that sector, three are not democracies. That said, there are also more developing countries on this list as well, which could also be a factor.

Looking Ahead

Edelman notes that polarization is both “cause and consequence of distrust,” creating a self-fulfilling cycle. Aside from the four metrics stated above, concerns about the erosion of civility and weakening social fabric also lead to polarization.

Edelman polarization quote

As global events unfold in 2023—including looming worries of a recession—it will be fascinating to see how countries might switch positions in the year to come.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer

Data note: Survey conducted: Nov 1 – Nov 28, 2022. Survey included 32,000+ respondents in 28 countries. Russia was omitted from this year’s survey. See page 2 of the report for more details.

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