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LenteViral Makes a Splash with Real-Time Electoral Survey Platform

By on October 20, 2016
VotoPR2016 Platform Breaks New Ground in Digital Polling, With Surprising Results

total-de-votoslogo-lente-viral-page-001SAN JUAN – The ability to gauge voter preferences on the eve of a major electoral event is an inexact science, to say the least. Traditional ways of carrying out voter surveys are often beset with logistical difficulties and the sheer size of samples required to provide an accurate assessment of a given candidate’s chances of victory makes the process at times too unwieldy and time-consuming, especially when taking into account the current up-to-the-minute news cycle.

LenteViral, an online news-video provider based in San Juan’s Santurce district, sought to overcome many of the difficulties associated with taking surveys when it launched VotoPR2016 last July. Touted as the first and only survey in Puerto Rico that provides real-time results on the island’s gubernatorial race, the platform has made a splash in the online media world, to the degree that it has surpassed its maker’s expectations, the platform’s project manager, Rafael Díaz, told Caribbean Business.

Platform Project Manager Rafael Díaz

VotoPR2016 Project Manager Rafael Díaz

“When we launched the platform on July 1, I expected it to capture about 10,000 votes, at the most,” Díaz said. “By the time the first weekend had passed after we launched, we had already gone beyond that number.” As of this writing, almost four months after its launch and mere weeks before the Nov. 8 general elections, 77,706 votes have been registered. “Our goal is to reach 100,000 votes by the time the survey closes on the day before the elections,” Díaz noted. “This would make for a much bigger population sample than what is commonly captured in traditional surveys.”

The survey—easily accessible through Votopr2016.com—is updated every 10 seconds, showing poll results almost in real time. The survey platform has also taken off due to its set of quality and antifraud controls. Contrary to many other online surveys—which lend themselves to repeat voting and the use of automated voting schemes through bots or other sorts of digital trickery—the VotoPR2016 platform requires users to enter through a Facebook account, with each entry monitored by a five-person team to make sure that the account belongs to a real, living person who is older than 18 and thus eligible to vote.

“We set some ground rules in validating a user’s Facebook page for the purposes of the study, mainly that the page must have been active for at least one year and the user has at least 100 Facebook friends,” Díaz explained.

Only one vote per account

The platform only allows for one vote per account, with each vote kept under strict secrecy. “In the event that users have a change of mind regarding the candidate they support, they can come in and change it any time, as many times as they want, but the vote would remain uniquely theirs, meaning there’s no duplication of votes anytime it is changed,” Díaz went on to say. For people who are not yet sure of which candidate they prefer, there is also an ‘Undecided’ option available.

LenteViral’s collaboration with Tactical Media, a local firm specializing in electronic billboards, and a local daily newspaper has further raised the platform’s profile among the general population, with a variety of publishing and advertising efforts that include the aforementioned electronic billboards as well as webpage “widgets” that show the results for the top-three candidates as advertisements at select websites.

Speaking of the top-three candidates in the survey, the ongoing results have become something of a surprise to the makers of the platform. “Everyone expected the candidates from the traditional political parties [Ricardo Rosselló of the New Progressive Party and David Bernier of the Popular Democratic Party] to occupy top spots, but the story has been altogether different,” Díaz noted.

Independent candidate Lúgaro leading

That is because an independent gubernatorial candidate, Alexandra Lúgaro, has consistently occupied the top spot in the survey—and by a significant margin. “We expected her to garner plenty of votes, but to have an eight-point advantage over the second-place [Rosselló] is unprecedented. We looked for ways in which the platform could be further improved, but that’s just the way the people are behaving out there. There’s no trickery involved,” Díaz said.

As of presstime, Lúgaro boasted 37.6% of votes, followed by Rosselló with 28.5% and Bernier with 23.8%. Making up the rest of the gubernatorial hopefuls is Manuel Cidre, another independent candidate, with 7.8% of votes; María de Lourdes Santiago, of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, with 1.1%, and Rafael Bernabe, of the Puerto Rico Working People’s Party, with 0.6%. Undecided voters comprise 0.7% of total voters in the survey.

In a way, Díaz noted, these results should not be surprising, due to Lúgaro having by far the strongest presence on social media, with almost 333,000 likes on Facebook. “The survey’s order also mirrors the number of likes that each candidate has on Facebook as well, at least where the top-three candidate are concerned,” Díaz said. Lúgaro has also been particularly aggressive in spurring her supporters to vote in the survey, which has also helped, he added.

However, common-held perception still holds that Lúgaro has an outside chance of winning the general elections, Diaz acknowledged. “We know that all the people who have voted on VotoPR2016 are eligible to vote. Whether those people will actually get out and vote on Nov. 8 remains to be seen, but the platform nevertheless provides a clear view of who has the momentum going into Nov. 8.”

 

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