Category Archives: Analysis

The (Local) General Election on Twitter

The UK’s national election is decided on a constituency basis: 650 odd separate small elections, each returning one MP. Despite the obvious importance of national parties and their leaders for shaping the election campaign as a whole, it is commonly accepted that the ability of local campaigns is also a significant factor. For example, the Liberal Democrats are well known for having highly organised local activities in their home constituencies; something which might help them hold onto seats despite their overall poor polling in national polls. Given this, for those interested in the influence of social media on the election, it’s worth looking not just at nationally relevant hashtags and Twitter accounts, but how local candidates have been using social media.

In a previous post Taha Yasseri and Stefano de Sabbata looked at the distribution of candidate accounts on Twitter, based on data from YourNextMP. In this post, using the same YNMP data as well as tweets collected by Scott Hale from the Twitter Streaming API over the last month, we look at the actual tweeting activity of MPs. The map below shows the level of activity of each MP in each British constituency for six UK parties in the month leading up to the election. The scale shows light, medium and heavy users of Twitter

OII - GE2015 - Candidate Activity on Twitter - Bright, Hale - web

Level of candidate activity on Twitter

Almost 450,000 tweets were sent by candidates of these six parties in the month leading up to the general election (the Labour party sent over 120,000, the Conservatives and the Green Party sent around 80,000 each, the Liberal Democrats just over 70,000, UKIP just over 60,000 and the SNP just over 15,000).

Compared to the map which Taha and Stefano produced on account distribution, in this new one regional patterns are clearly more apparent: whereas the major parties have candidates with Twitter accounts almost uniformly across the UK, their level of usage varies a lot. Only the SNP are uniform heavy users of Twitter: only two of their candidates sent less than 10 tweets in this period, and the majority sent more than 100. This also chimes with the fact that they are the party who has, relative to the overall number of candidates, created the most Twitter accounts – clearly they have a very active and organised social media presence.

OII - GE2015 - Tweet Histograms - Bright, Hale

Candidate activity on Twitter by party

The histogram above show more detail about the level of twitter activity and how it breaks down between different parties. Conservative, Green and Labour have broadly similar patterns, with the average candidate having sent around 100 tweets in the last month, whilst a few have sent several thousand. UKIP and the Liberal Democrats show a flatter distribution.

Of course, it’s one thing to tweet, but is anyone else actually listening? More on that soon…

Where do people mention candidates on Twitter?

In previous posts we’ve looked at people mentioning local party candidates on Twitter. In that post we basically assumed that people mentioning local candidates were based in the same constituency as the candidate themselves. But is that the case? It could be that the majority of tweets are coming from large cities, especially London, where the majority of the party machines are typically based.

Candidate Mention Locations

Candidate mention locations on Twitter in the month leading up to the UK General Election 2015

To provide a rough check of this, we looked at all mentions of candidates on Twitter during the last month which had geolocation enabled (usually because they are tweeted through a smartphone). Geolocated tweets are a fraction of the overall tweets produced (less than 5%); nevertheless, they provide a rough and ready way of checking that all of our candidate tweets are not from one place.

In short, candidate mentions are pretty evenly spread through the country (albeit based on a relatively small amount of data): there is no sense they are concentrated in one part of the country.

Social Media + Elections: A Recap

OII - GE2015 - Candidate Activity on Twitter - Bright, Hale - web

From Jonathan Bright and Scott Hale’s blog post on Twitter Use.

In the run-up to the general election we conducted a number of investigations into relative candidate and party use of social media and other online platforms. The site elections.oii.ox.ac.uk has served as our hub for elections-related data analysis. There is much to look over, but this blog post can guide you through.

Twitter

What if mentions were votes?” by Jonathan Bright and Scott Hale

Which parties are having the most impact on Twitter?” by Jonathan Bright and Scott Hale

The (Local) General Election on Twitter” by Jonathan Bright

Where do people mention candidates on Twitter?” by Jonathan Bright

Twitter + Wikipedia 

Online presence of the General Election Candidates: Labour Wins Twitter while Tories take Wikipedia” by Taha Yasseri

Wikipedia 

Which parties were most read on Wikipedia?” by Jonathan Bright

Does anyone read Wikipedia around election time?” by Taha Yasseri

Google Trends

What does it mean to win a debate anyway?: Media Coverage of the Leaders’ Debates vs. Google Search Trends” by Eve Ahearn

Social Media Overall

Could social media be used to forecast political movements?” by Jonathan Bright

Social Media are not just for elections” by Helen Margetts

Coverage of European parties in European language Wikipedia editions

By  and .

Reading niche political party Wikipedia pages, as one does when working on the Social Election Prediction project, one might wonder if there are any trends in which languages have articles about political parties of different countries. I did. Most major political parties in Europe have Wikipedia pages in dozens of languages, this makes sense, they are important, globally. But the same is not true for minority parties or party leaders. What does it mean that there are articles about this center-left Hungarian political alliance only in Czech, German, French, Flemish and Polish, in addition to Hungarian and English? Does the page of this ChristianUnion Dutch politician have coverage in Indonesian (in addition to German and English) because of the Netherlands’ long history with Indonesia?

We downloaded the data to find out.

We downloaded the data for European countries with a singular national language (or overly dominant singular language), so there would be something of a one-to-one relationship between language and country. We then grouped the countries in communities based on the number of links between the political party Wikipedia pages to minimize the inter-category and maximize the intra-category links.

Would countries cluster by historic ties? By geographical proximity? By political sympathies? Or would they just cluster completely randomly?

The first two observations that came from the graph were:

             1. Political Wikipedia is influenced by geography

Just look at the clusters grouped together by color – these are “communities” of languages, or countries that are closely interlinked.

Clusters of European country-languages based on the coverage of their political parties in Wikipedia editions of other languages.

Clusters of European country-languages based on the coverage of their political parties in Wikipedia editions of other languages.

            2. Everyone is reading about Greece

All of the news about Syriza, the 2015 Greek election and the possibility of a Grexit has apparently made fellow Europeans very interested in reading about Greek political parties. Greek political party pages have one of the highest rates of coverage among European parties.

The position of Greek parties is very special with a high rate of coverage in most of the other European languages.

The position of Greek parties is very special with a high rate of coverage in most of the other European languages.

            Stay tuned. More observations from this dataset to come.

 

This post has been cross-posted to the Oxford Internet Institute’s  Elections and the Internet blog.