Consulting firm uses social media to track voters' attitudes about US candidates

Ad Victory closely monitoring Michigan Senate race

'Ad Victory' uses social media to track voters' attitudes about candidates

After the 2016 U.S. presidential election made clear that polls aren’t always predictive, a consulting firm developed a new process for gauging public opinion of political candidates.

Michigan-native and Michigan State University graduate Adam Meldrum founded Ad Victory -- a consulting firm mostly known for their work with conservative candidates, including Michigan representatives John Moolenar and Jack Bergman. Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, the firm developed a new process for “polling” the public that relies on digital interactions.

Using artificial intelligence on social media, Ad Victory tracks races across the U.S. by logging online enthusiasm or opposition shown for candidates. The data collected provides information similar to that of focus groups, but constantly and in real time.

“You’re surfacing things that you wouldn’t otherwise think to ask,” Meldrum said of the process. “You’re seeing what people are talking about. You’re seeing issues that impact people that you might not think they care about.”

Among the races being tracked by the firm is the race between Senator Gary Peters and John James.

According to the most recent polling from Local 4 and The Detroit News, Peters has opened a nearly 10-point lead against James -- but Meldrum says he believes the race is much closer than what the polls suggest. In fact, the consulting firm observed that attitudes toward the candidates actually positioned James ahead of Peters by 10 points.

The firm also believes that the presidential race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is closer than what polls are suggesting. Ad Victory’s data shows Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has held a steady lead over Republican presidential candidate Trump -- by about four to six points.

In the latest WDIV/Detroit News poll, Biden held an eight-point lead on Trump (49.3%-41.6%). As with the early October survey, voters over the age of 65 support Joe Biden over Donald Trump by a 32-point margin at 64.8% Biden to 32.0% for Trump.

Meldrum says Ad Victory’s work does not replace traditional polling, but rather is meant to be used a supplementary tool to gauge public opinion.

With less than 72 hours before Election Day, campaigning has ramped up in Michigan -- a “battleground” state in the presidential election.

On Saturday, President Barack Obama joined Biden at drive-in rallies in Flint and Detroit. On Sunday, President Trump will hold a rally in Washington Township at Total Sports Park. Then on Monday, the president will be in Traverse City before holding a rally at the Grand Rapids based Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

More: In Michigan, Obama criticizes Trump in scathing, personal terms

Be prepared: What to know before voting in General Election in Michigan on Nov. 3, 2020

About the Authors:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.