Full Duplex has partnered with Abacus Data to provide complementary analysis of the Ontario election. Abacus Data is conducting online surveys using more traditional polling methodologies. Full Duplex is conducting analysis of Ontario election activity using Sysomos Heartbeat and MAP, and our own proprietary analysis tool, Compass.

Today’s analysis considers some high level numbers related to content generation and participation. Tomorrow we’ll look at how the leaders and parties are faring within the chatter, including sentiment analysis and trends. Wednesday, we’ll look at issues and how they’re playing out online.

This week’s analysis looks at May 2 through June 1, inclusive (with a few looks at the last six days).

Twitter dominates online election activity

Between May 26 and June 1 (inclusive), the Ontario election (and related people and events) has been mentioned in 108,001 tweets (93.5% of evaluated online chatter), 3,676 news articles (3.1%), 2,939 publicly-visible Facebook posts (2.5%), 411 blog posts (0.3%) and 337 forum threads (0.2%). The 68 relevant YouTube videos were too few in numbers to rank. In all, there was an average of 16,490 online mentions of the election each day, up from 15,210 during our last evaluation period.


Since the election was called, there has been 466,792 relevant Twitter mentions (93.1% of evaluated online chatter), 15,413 news articles (3.3%), 13,197 publicly-visible Facebook posts (2.8%), 2,015 blog posts (0.4%) and 1,103 forum threads (0.2%). The 262 YouTube videos account for less than 0.1% of the mentions. This works out to be an average of 15,058 mentions per day between May 2 and June 1, inclusive. That’s up from 14,624 average daily online mentions noted during our last evaluation period.


Many participants, many more tweets

In all, 43,892 Canadians have issued election related tweets. With the tweet count for the election-to-date at 434,802, that works out to an average of 10 tweets per participant. Of course, that’s not the way the participation rates work out.

21,782 participants (50%) in election-related tweets have come and gone in a single tweet. That means, half of participants are not engaged in the chatter. They typically retweet comments, content or headlines shared by others and leave. These people offer analysts (and campaign teams) the opportunity to register another potentially new expression of political affinity based on direct or inferred of sentiment/stance.

There is a greater chance of determining affinity among those who tweet more often since by issuing more than one tweet, there’s the potential to discover more information. Participation rates are as follows:

  • 1 tweet: 21,782 participants (50%)
  • 2-4 tweets: 11,404 participants (26%)
  • 5-7 tweets: 3,194 participants (7%)
  • 8+ tweets: 7,512 participants (17%)

Those who tweet 8 or more times include those who work in the media, analysts, political players (including candidates and members of campaign teams) and political enthusiasts.

The lower levels of participation continue to grow, though at slightly different rates. The one-time tweeters line is still on a fairly steep trajectory, gaining 4,692 new participants or a 26% growth since our last evaluation period. The 2-4 tweet group grew 8% with 848 new participants. Growth of the more active groups appears to be stalling with the 5-7 tweet group picking up only 79 new participants (2% growth) and the 8+ group gaining only 52 new contributors (0.7% growth).


As long as there are new participants, we can expect to see new expressions of opinion and political affinity. When the the participation curve levels-off, we’ll be looking at an echo chamber where the most notable information could be declarations or change in voting intention.

The graph features three lines. One shows the number of tweets issued each day (Tweets), the number of unique contributors each day (Unique tweeters), and the trend line indicating cumulative participation over time.


Mostly amplification

Like most political chatter online, the Ontario election is seeing mostly amplification  in the form of retweets. This means people are mostly re-broadcasting headlines, content and “zingers” issued by other people as regular tweets containing original content of some form or another. And true to online political form, conversation represents a very small portion of the activity.

Rather than look at overall participation styles, we chose to look at the participation style at the four levels of participation. While there are some obvious consistencies among the four groups of election tweeters (such as the leaning toward amplification rather than communication or conversation), there are also some noticeable differences.

One-time tweeters are much less likely to use their sole contribution as a response to another tweeter than those who are most engaged. Still, the most engaged participants are not nearly as engaged in conversation as one might expect.


Mostly low and medium “authority” rankings

Sysomos assigns authority rankings to participating Twitter accounts based on the size of their Twitter communities, how much content the account issues, how often the user is retweeted and how often the account engages in Twitter exchanges. Twitter authority is not always consistent with real credibility. Someone who’s particularly powerful in the political world could be completely irrelevant in these rankings based on their own Twitter patterns.

Most participants in the Ontario election discussion have a low authority ranking (58%). There’s a healthy number of participants in the medium category (41%) and a very small portion with high authority rankings (1%). The high authority group includes a healthy number of media organizations and journalists, and popular political players, analysts and celebrities.


Participation skews male

Consistent with general online political chatter, participation skews male. This suggests that men are more likely to voice their political opinions online than women.

Interestingly, the propensity to engage in online political chatter doesn’t always translate to the voting booth. In both the 2011 and 2008 federal elections, women voted in higher numbers than men. According to Elections Canada, “for the 2011 general election women participated at a higher rate (59.6%) than men (57.3%), and this was true across all age groups up to age 64, where men started participating more than women. This is the same pattern seen in the previous election in 2008.


Popular hashtags

#onpoli tops the list of most popular. It is the hashtag associated with Ontario politics. #voteon is the most popular election-specific hashtag. Others which didn’t rank, including #onelxn and #onelxn14.

The #cdnpoli hashtag applies to Canadian politics and #topoli to Toronto politics. #olp, #ondp and #pcpo represent the Ontario provincial Liberals, NDP and PC’s respectively. #stophudak is a hashtag used by critics of Tim Hudak.


Most popular tweet

A May 28 tweet from Twitter user @MarkBonokoski earns bragging rights for having issued the most retweeted tweet between May 26 and June 1. As of the writing of this post, the tweet has accumulated 193 tweets and 42 favourites.


Coming tomorrow…

Tomorrow’s analysis will include comparison of leader mentions and sentiment.

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