UK General Election – is Twitter having any impact?

UK General Election – is Twitter having any impact?

Dollywagon”s latest network analysis of hash tag usage on Twitter during the current General Election raises some interesting questions.

The official election polls in the mainstream media show a tight race with the Conservatives slightly ahead of Labour and The Liberal Democrats. However, on Twitter the picture appears to be significantly different.

Our data shows that political hash tag usage related to the Lib Dem party is approximately 50% higher than that for Labour and 75% higher than for the Conservatives.

The Lib Dems have clearly won a greater share of Twitter traffic than the other two main parties. But does this reflect something the official polls are not picking up or does it mean that Twitter (and other social media) have failed to make a decisive impact on this election campaign?

Dollywagon”s guess is that Twitter”s role has been limited to providing an outlet for partisan views and the sharing of General Election “Oh My God” moments.

General Election Hash Tag Cloud 5th May 2010

Our latest General Election Hash Tag Cloud image supports this view – the picture reveals an interesting evolution from yesterday”s situation. The orange Lib Dem cloud at the top of the image is as populous and dense as ever.

But at the bottom of the picture we see a red surge of Labour supporting tags – this seems less to do with a spontaneous popular outpouring rather than a concerted effort by party activists to raise morale amongst the core vote.

Unfortunately for Labour we also see a small mushrooming of tags related to Manish Sood, the maverick Labour candidate in Norfolk who denounced Gordon Brown. But looking on casino pa natet the bright side, at least the “bigotgate” hash tags seem to have mostly boiled away.

Positive Conservative tags seem less in evidence – they are definitely online casinos there but tend to be swamped by larger numbers of negative-Tory tags. The purple #philippastroud tags are a case in point – they have been the fastest growing hash tags of the last 48 hours but their key themes have failed to leak into the mainstream media.

This suggests that as far as UK politics is concerned, Twitter may become an enclave for left-of-centre and liberal views that are antithetical to mainstream conservative mores. Our view is that the cultural pendulum has swung away from the concerns of the liberal left, which partly explains the lack of interest in a “Tory Homophobes” story among the main TV channels.

However, if David Cameron does becomes our next Prime Minister, we predict that Twitter could become a significant platform for a future social and political back-lash against Tory rule.

Twitter doesn”t seem to have rocked the boat too much during this General Election (TV certainly did), but when the cultural pendulum swings back towards the liberal left it could just set the agenda for the next election.

Person read this post and left a comment

Leave a Reply