The nail biting US election

The US election has kept us all on the edge of our seats. After a long campaign season *drum roll* Donald Trump is now the President of the United States. This election meant a lot to people outside the US so we partnered with CNN to understand Why Africa Cares About the US election.

Through a mobile conversation the day before the election we found that a whopping 78% of Africans believed Hillary would win.  When asked again today after the election, 62% were surprised Trump won mostly because polls pointed to a Hillary victory. This sentiment was shared by news channels and people across the world. What changed? How is it that Trump won by such a large margin when all the polls suggested differently?

Clayton Christensen author of Competing Against Luck goes to great length to show ways in which we put tireless effort and faith into data but often feel the insights are way off. Christensen argues that data is a means of representing phenomena.  If data collection doesn’t take into account human behavior and emotional and social factors it becomes just numbers - like the thousands of polls pointing to a Hillary victory.  

 

the power of human behavior

The International Smartphone Mobility Report found that in the US, smartphone users are sending and receiving five times more texts a day than phone calls. In total, they spend about 26 minutes a day texting compared to six minutes a day on voice calls. Still, most election polls are done through random digit dialing and if successful, a phone interview.  Who answers the phone from a random number these days?!

Furthermore, how you ask questions can impact the depth of the response. The Daybreak poll at USC/LA Times was the only poll to point to a Trump victory as early as July.  This poll asked questions not as yes or no like other polls but instead asked participants to rate the likelihood of their voting choice on a scale from zero to 100 and then weighted the response.

 

understanding How we really feel

After the election we chatted again with Kenyans to see how they were feeling after the election.  We didn’t randomly call folks hoping a gracious soul would take the time to talk, we sent a mobile conversation directly to 300 Kenyans asking how they felt. The response: Africans were also surprised by Trump’s win mainly because of his controversial character and performance in the debates.  The large majority felt Hillary was the most socially acceptable candidate but didn't win because she’s a woman. The truth hurts.