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The polls are wrong. The U.S. presidential race is a near dead heat, this A.I. ‘sentiment analysis’ tool says

The polls are wrong. The U.S. presidential race is a near dead heat, this A.I. ‘sentiment analysis’ tool says

An analysis of the emotions being expressed on social media indicates that the upcoming U.S. presidential election may be a much closer contest than many commentators and pollsters believe.



Donald Trump standing in front of a crowd: Photo of President Donald Trump speaking at a recent election campaign rally.


© Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
Photo of President Donald Trump speaking at a recent election campaign rally.

That’s the conclusion of Expert.ai, a company with offices in Modena, Italy, and Rockville, Maryland, that uses an A.I. technique called “sentiment analysis” to understand the emotions being expressed in social media posts.

The company’s analysis puts Democratic candidate Joseph Biden ahead of President Donald Trump, 50.2% to 47.3%, a margin that is much narrower than the double-digit lead that Biden has over Trump in most national opinion polls.

Based on these polls, many political analysts and commentators are expecting that Biden may win a historic landslide. But Expert.ai’s A.I.-based analysis indicates the race may be much tighter than these human experts are expecting.

Expert.ai’s political forecasting model was successful in predicting that the U.K. would vote to leave the European Union in 2016. And academic research has shown that similar social media sentiment analysis would have better predicted Trump’s victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election than polling data.

Trump was the focus of far more social media activity than Biden, accounting for almost 60% of all the posts Expert.ai analyzed, compared to slightly less than 17% for Biden. But Biden ranked higher in terms of positive emotions such as “success” and “hope,” while Trump scored higher on negative emotions such as “fear” and “hatred.”

The only positive emotion on which Trump scores better than Biden, according to a statement from Expert.ai, is “action.”

Expert.ai’s system looked at 500,000 Twitter posts and other social media comments made over the past week. It uses natural language processing, a form of A.I. that

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Johnson has taken the wrong economic lesson from the Covid crisis

Johnson has taken the wrong economic lesson from the Covid crisis

The writer is professor at University College London and author of ‘The Entrepreneurial State’

Boris Johnson attempted to look beyond the Covid-19 pandemic at the Conservative party conference this week by warning against drawing “the wrong economic conclusion from this crisis”. For “those on the left, who think everything can be funded by uncle sugar the taxpayer”, the UK prime minister said, “there comes a moment when the state must stand back and let the private sector get on with it”.

This crude characterisation of how innovations come about has worrying implications. It is the wrong economic vision for the post-pandemic recovery the UK desperately needs; the same vision that led to our unpreparedness in the first place. This is not about left versus right, or public versus private. It is about working together to shape a symbiotic innovation system fit to solve the greatest challenges of our times. 

Mr Johnson’s claim also reveals a poor understanding of the history of innovation. Contrary to his view that “it isn’t the state that produces the new drugs and therapies”, governments have funded some of the highest-risk research and development, leading to the most important innovations, including in biopharmaceuticals. The US National Institutes of Health spends more than $40bn a year in health innovation and contributed more than $200bn to research on innovative drugs approved from 2010-2019. 

Optimism about the private sector’s “rational interest” in competition, market share and sales as a driver for innovation is misplaced. The private sector has in fact been slow to respond to medical needs that are vital to public health but financially unattractive, such as new infectious diseases and antibiotics.

In contrast, the pivotal role of the state has been accentuated in the pandemic. Governments and supranational organisations have provided close to $6bn of investment

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