What's the best way of seeing who is the most important and influential players in the 2016 presidential campaigns? Sure we've heard lots about Clinton, Trump and Cruz, but what about the other players in the mix?

Influencer2016 is a great online tool that enables users free of charge to see who are the key players, how they connect and which spheres of influence they operate in.

Wyeth Ruthven of Qorvis MSLGROUP explains more.

How is Influencer2016 shaking up the way viewers can engage with election coverage?

At Qorvis MSLGROUP we wanted to create a tool that answered the question "Who is influencing the powerful and influential?" So we wanted to map out a political ecosystem - who are the candidates connected to? Who are their staffs connected to? What people, places and organizations are having the most influence on the campaigns. does that.

What is the inspiration behind the digital map? 

We wanted a tool that could visualize connections between candidates, staffers, campaigns and organizations. In a way, it's like the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. This candidate is connected to this person who worked at this organization and met this other person on a campaign -- and so on.

Why do you think voters are fascinated by political influencers? 

Sometime in the 1990s political consultants became celebrities. It's like James Carville and George Stephanopoulos were the stars of the documentary The War Room. And the entire cast of The West Wing. And Alexandra Pelosi's documentary about George W. Bush. Voters want to see what goes on behind the curtain.

Can you share some of your key findings? 

You see the biggest contrast in influencer maps between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The Clinton map looks like a spider web with 25 years of connections. And the connections surrounding Hillary are completely different from the connections surrounding Bill. You can click on a dot and move it around on the map, and if you put Hillary and Bill on opposite ends of the screen, it really illustrates the two different networks. Meanwhile, Donald Trump's map is a very rigid hub-and-spoke system Everything links back directly to The Donald, or to his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. And I think that is emblematic of Trump's campaign -- he runs his own show, even when he makes it up as he goes along.

How do you think influencers will play a pivotal role in the 2016 Presidential Election? Who are the biggest influencers?

In every winning campaign, you typically have three key influencers -- a strategist who sets the big picture, a tactician who manages the day-to-day campaign, and a communicator who handles messaging. On George W. Bush's campaign, you had Karl Rove, Joe Allbaugh and Karen Hughes. On the Obama campaign, it was David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Robert Gibbs. So that's typically who you look for on our influencer map.
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