I recently collaborated with Jennifer Stromer-Galley and Jerry Robinson on this article that just got published by The Conversation. We analyze the communicative strategies of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton – now, officially, the main candidates of the 2016 US Elections – during the surfacing stage and the primaries. The analysis uses data from the Illuminating 2016 project.
Our analysis suggests that Trump is less concerned with informing the public than with building a favorable image for himself. The same is true for his attacks: messages are mostly directed at his opponents’ public image and personal traits and seldom address the issues. Clinton is significantly more concerned with informing public policy and is also – perhaps counterintuitively – more likely to go negative.