So last week, I tried out Twitter’s newish polling feature. I thought it would be cool to see where Vegan.com’s largely-vegan Twitter following stood on the US Presidential election. My question: “If you’re vegan—and only if you’re vegan—who has your vote?” The poll ran for 24 hours and here are the results:
If you're vegan—and only if you're vegan—who has your vote?
— Vegan (@vegan) May 9, 2016
I had my suspicions that vegans would lean towards Bernie, but the results were far beyond what I expected: 9 percent for Trump, 76 percent for Bernie, and only 15 percent for Hillary. As with any poll, the results raise more questions than answers. In particular, do the results indicate adoration for Bernie or are they more reflective of contempt toward Hillary and Donald?
Most importantly, is there something about a vegan worldview that would make vegans overwhelmingly favor a candidate like Bernie?
Polls of any kind are notoriously unreliable and a Twitter poll is about as unreliable as polls get. For one thing, there’s nothing to guarantee that respondents were registered voters or even US citizens. And Twitter polls are easily manipulable by vote brigading, although there’s strong reason to think that this did not occur here. Matt Ruscigno MPH RD tweeted something I also observed:
pretty incredible that these percentages have stayed nearly identical from the first 5 minutes through 23 hours.
So I think that it’s likely this poll flew under the radar, and hit the sweet spot in terms of having a statistically significant sample size (1713 respondents) without being large enough to attract efforts to manipulate the results.
The phrasing of the poll question was, I think, about as neutral and unleading as possible. But it would be nice if Twitter could rotate the response order each time a poll is displayed, so that each candidate would display first on the list one-third of the time. I think it’s probable that Hillary got a little extra juice out of my decision to list her first.
I don’t know what to make of the results. Maybe vegans tend to be philosophically inclined to favor the rhetoric of Sanders over Clinton or Trump. Or maybe they’re just a contrarian bunch, who can be counted on to favor the underdog. One things’s for sure, though: for whatever reason, Bernie Sanders seems to have the 2016 vegan vote in the bag.