The Public Echoes Of Rhetoric In America (PEORIA) Project

People have measured the polls. People have measured the fundraising figures. But no one has measured the words and messages candidates use… until now.

The Graduate School of Political Management has launched the Public Echoes Of Rhetoric In America (PEORIA) Project, which seeks to quantify how voters react to campaign messages.

Through the PEORIA Project, the public will learn, for the first time, the main channels through which presidential aspirants’ messages reach the electorate; how those messages are being received and passed on through individuals’ personal networks; and who is getting the most “mainstream” and “social” media traction.


Released Friday mornings, The ECHO is a continuation of our research into the use of social media in politics. It features analysis on which officials, issues, and key Congressional races are gaining or losing traction on Twitter.

See the latest edition below.

The ECHO Quarterly Report

In this second edition of The ECHO Quarterly, we will recap our rationale and process for analyzing Twitter echoes, which I’ve visualized here as TweetWaves(TM) of varying size and impact. Next, for the first time I report out quarterly trends for the institutions, toss-up races, newsmakers, and hot topics covered in our weekly editions of The ECHO, providing greater context for each while identifying research notes missed along the way. Finally, I look back at how our two main findings hold up from the first edition of the The ECHO Quarterly and provide additional insights about the speed of TweetWaves(TM) and the opportunities they may provide political managers.

See an archive of The ECHO here

PEORIA Project Rhetorical Recaps

GSPM Associate Professor and Research Director Michael Cornfield breaks down the relevant themes and messages from each stage of the 2016 presidential race and the Trump presidency. View every recap here.


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PEORIA Project Reports


Empowering the Party Crasher

GSPM Prof. Michael Cornfield explores how effective Twitter use helped Donald Trump in the first GOP debate. Read the full report here.  


Much has been written over the past two weeks about the new Trump administration’s populist membership, many of whom followed him to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue from the ’16 campaign. While his team rivals for Trump’s attention, the president’s potential rivals now work elsewhere.

Read the full report here

Michael Cohen's work on the PEORIA Project has offered new and compelling data, and working with my partner, Michael Cornfield, has taken my previous ideas in new and much more interesting directions. The idea of the permanent campaign needs a refresh from its origins decades ago

Most importantly, we now have a political novice as president who fully endorses ongoing campaigning as a way of life.

Read the full report here

We could discuss a more substantive analysis of Twitter conversation around these important issues (we will) but, let’s face it, most of us are exhausted from the 2016 campaign and the first few months of the Trump presidency. So let’s have some fun, instead. Let’s look at the trip’s moments that Twitter obsessed over, in chronological order, most of which will mean nothing long-term but were as entertaining as some of the best Seinfeld episodes.

Read the full report here

What happened yesterday? Depending on where you sit it was either a day where the President of the United States was called a liar by someone so credible that no one challenged his story or his honesty. On the other side, the event may lead you to conclude that the "deep state" is out to get the one man that can shake up the system. 

Read the full report here. 

Since January, students in both my undergraduate and graduate classes have been universal in their belief that Sen. Kamala Harris of California is the future of the Democratic party. They point to her career in public service as a district attorney before her election to be the state’s attorney general in 2010, as well as her relative youth (she’s 52), and diverse background (she’s biracial). Tugging on my political science heart strings, they remind me that California has 55 Electoral College votes.

Admittedly, I’ve been more circumspect.

Read the full report here.


As President-elect Donald Trump assembles his cabinet, one name floated for Secretary of State was former Republican nominee Mitt Romney, despite the former governor's outspoken criticism of Trump. Ultimately, the businessman chose another businessman for the job, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. To find out why, says PEORIA Project lead researcher Michael Cohen, one must look to the reactions each aspirant received on Twitter. Is this a one-off event or the beginning of a governing trend? Only time will tell, but in the interim read the full report on Medium.

How did all the polls miss Republican Donald Trump's election night upset? PEORIA Project lead researcher (and pollster) Michael Cohen argues that the public opinion numbers were both right and wrong. He then lays out some suggestions for the industry to mitigate the reasons behind the seemingly contradictory result. Read the full report on Medium

One of the quintessential elements of the 21st Century presidential campaign is the official hashtag. Republican Donald Trump launched with "#MakeAmericaGreatAgain (#MAGA)" and it resonated strongly, with over 22 million uses according to our PEORIA Project research. Hillary Clinton's campaign, however, had two hashtags (#ImWithHer and #StrongerTogether) seemingly competing against each other. PEORIA Project lead researcher Michael Cohen argues that the Clinton team may have chosen the wrong tag to pin at the top of their campaign. Read the latest report on Medium

Now weeks into the presidential transition, pundits, prognosticators, and everyday Americans are looking for an explanation for Donald Trump's presidential triumph. PEORIA Project lead researcher Prof. Michael Cohen lays out five key components of the real estate mogul's success and what it means for future campaigns at all levels. Read the latest report on Medium

As a tumultuous election cycle began its final stage, the FBI revived its investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's private email server. What impact has this latest "October surprise" had on the polls and on the narrative of the presidential election? Lead researcher Prof. Michael Cohen details how the revelations impacted public opinion numbers and conversations. Read the latest report on Medium.  

In the final presidential debate Republican nominee Donald Trump had two significant moments on social media. The first, that he would keep Americans "in suspense" as to whether he would accept the results of this election, led newspapers across the country. The second moment, his "such a nasty woman" retort, sparked the most conversation over social media. The race is now headed into the home stretch, and it's unlikely that the candidates will have another chance to change the narrative. What's left for a trailing Donald Trump to do? Lead researcher Prof. Michael Cohen has an idea in the full report on Medium

Throughout the course of the PEORIA Project we have been tracking the rise and fall of campaign moments as seen through retweets and hashtags. The release of the Access Hollywood video containing Donald Trump's comments towards women spawned one of the largest and most damaging hashtags for the Republican nominee yet: #TrumpTapes. Lead researcher Prof. Michael Cohen shows how #TrumpTapes is different than the other "negative" Trump hashtags, and what the fallout from the incident has been in the polls and in conversations about the presidential race. Read the full report on Medium

While the "style" contest was clearly won by Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, PEORIA Project lead researcher Prof. Michael Cohen has found that both Pence and Democratic candidate Tim Kaine gained from the vice presidential debate. Cohen shows that each candidate experienced gains in public opinion polling as well as Twitter engagement as the week progressed, and that both men are likely to have a strong political future even if they fall short of the White House in November. Read the full report on Medium

The overall score for the first debate was mixed, with Trump getting a boost in social media traffic but Clinton earning a bump in public opinion polls. However, neither side was able to turn the first televised contest into a watershed event. How did the debate conversation unfold online, and what can we expect in the future? Read the full report on Medium

Using data from our partners Crimson Hexagon, the PEORIA Project has isolated the top political hashtags for the 2016 election. What campaign moments have mattered and which were just a flash in the digital pan? See the full report on Medium

Before a highly publicized foreign policy gaffe Thursday, former New Mexico Governor and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson had been a bit of an enigma for political professionals. Our PEORIA Project, in combination with the latest GW Battleground Poll, shows that there may be a chance for Johnson to make an outsider appeal to voters who find the two major party candidates unappealing. See the full report on Medium.  

Further analysis of Twitter metrics from the accounts of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump show that the conventional wisdom that Trump dominates the platform is wrong. On our four key metrics: frequency, impressions, echoes, and follower growth rate, Clinton has edged ahead of Trump. See the full results on Medium.  

New data from the Public Echoes Of Rhetoric In America (PEORIA) Project shows that new social media metrics may be able to determine the "bounce" a candidate will receive from a successful party convention prior to public opinion polls. Our first posting posited that the Democratic National Convention was more successful than the Republican National Convention in terms of energizing political partisans. Our second installment, published after the first wave of post-convention polling confirmed our original hypothesis, shows how campaigns can track the effectiveness of events just moments after they occur. 

Presumptive Democratic and Republican presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have not yet staked a claim to the online supporters of their felled opponents according to a new Public Echoes Of Rhetoric In America (PEORIA) Project report.

Read the full press release.

Read and download the full report.

See the embeddable data visualizations (via Slideshare).

Closer scrutiny of data from the social network Twitter would have helped to diagnose and predict the rise of the two outsider candidates in the 2016 presidential election, businessman Donald Trump and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, according to a new Public Echoes Of Rhetoric In America (PEORIA) Project report.

Read the full press release.

Read and download the full report

See the data visualizations. See the embeddable data visualizations (via Slideshare).


The fifth edition of the PEORIA Project, "The Year in Echoes" looks back at the year in political conversations and seeks to find the winners and losers in the battle to get campaign messages heard and echoed by the general public. This report includes all social and mainstream media conversations of the 2016 election from March 15, 2015 to January 17, 2016.

Read the full press release.

See the embeddable data visualizations (via Slideshare). 

The fourth edition of the PEORIA Project, "Kasich Rising," focuses on the ways in which lower-tier candidates are getting out their message and gaining traction through social media. This report contains data from the CNN Democratic and CNBC Republican debates and includes analysis on how aspirants are leveraging the large volume of social chatter around those events to their advantage. 

Read the full press release.

Read the full analysis from GSPM Associate Professors Michael Cornfield and Lara Brown.

See the embeddable data visualizations (via Slideshare). 

Following public echoes of campaigning messaging over the past two pivotal months, our third edition, "The GOP Debates Begin: The Presidential Campaign Conversation, Late Summer 2015," shows patterns in the number of mentions and share of voice among the presidential candidates, by party, before and after the FOX and CNN debates.

Read the full press release.

Read the full analysis from GSPM Associate Professors Lara Brown and Michael Cornfield.

See the embeddable data visualizations (via Slideshare). 

Building off of our first PEORIA Project report, our second edition "The Talk About Trump" covers the ways in which boisterous businessman Donald Trump has impacted the presidential race. Not only has he turned up the volume; he's also managed to change the topic of conversation. 

Read the full press release.

Read the full analysis from Cornfield and Brown.

See the embeddable data visualizations (via Slideshare). 

Read the full analysis of all the candidates' presidential announcements. See the data visualizations

Using Zignal Labs' realtime, cross media story tracking platform, GSPM Associate Professors Lara Brown and Michael Cornfield have tracked, measured, and analyzed more than 10.3 million mentions of the presidential aspirants in news and social media. This report shows which political brands are catching on, and which are catching flak, making the oft-mentioned "invisible primary" more discernable. 

Read the full press release.

Read the full analysis from Cornfield and Brown.

See the embeddable data visualizations (via Slideshare). 

Follow the PEORIA Project on Twitter: @PEORIAproject