MILWAUKEE, Nov. 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — A research project funded by the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute is tracking voter sentiment on a number of key issues, including race relations, COVID-19, and the economy, leading up to Tuesday’s presidential election. The Elecurator project, which began in January 2020, uses data science to shed light on what might be driving voter behavior during the 2020 presidential election campaign.

“We’re using a variety of data sources, including online and social media, traditional polling methods and political advertisements, to determine what issues are on the minds of voters. Social media is quite a timely mirror for what issues and news stories are capturing the American public’s attention. The benefit of this project is that our analysis is real-time; there is no need to wait for the polls,” commented Dr. Purush Papatla, Co-Director, Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute and Professor of Marketing at UW-Milwaukee.

The project is led by Papatla and Dr. Amber Wichowsky, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Marquette University and Director of the Marquette Democracy Lab. The team has created interactive tracking tools that can tell them what people are most focused on at any given time, how their focus is shifting and what issues are becoming more or less prominent. “One area our students are examining is the shift in importance Democrats and Republicans are placing on the Supreme Court. Through three national surveys, we’re also tracking the issues voters feel they haven’t heard enough about,” stated Wichowsky.

Recent findings from the Elecurator project suggest that Biden seems to be doing well on the topics of race relations, healthcare and the environment while Trump continues to be strong on the topic of the economy. However, the data shows that more people are now talking about Biden in relation to the economy as well. Both Biden and Trump have been seen negatively on social media regarding the pandemic, but recently Trump is being seen less negatively than he had been on this topic. Based on the social media data collected up to October 29, the project team has forecasted a 295-240 Electoral College vote split for Biden v. Trump, respectively. The forecast will also be updated and available on the Elecurator website the morning of election day. 

The project team includes a mix of undergraduate and graduate students in various degree programs from both UW-Milwaukee and Marquette, with varying experience and knowledge of data science and politics. More information about the project, as well as the daily trackers and key insights, can be found at

About the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute
The Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute is an industry and academic partnership between Northwestern Mutual, Marquette and UWM formed to inspire and cultivate passion for data science in the Milwaukee region. Leveraging the strengths of the three institutions, the groundbreaking partnership will contribute $40 million over five years to help build a technology ecosystem and advance southeastern Wisconsin as a national hub for technology, research, business and talent development, while creating an organic pipeline of tech talent in the area. To learn more about the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute, visit

For further information, contact:
Meghan Greco 1-800-323-7033
[email protected]

Kevin Conway 414-288-4745
[email protected]

Michelle Johnson 414-229-7490
[email protected]

SOURCE Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute

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