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.
Yesterday we examined online election activity and participation trends to-date noting online election chatter and participation both increased significantly as a result of last week’s debate. Today’s analysis builds on that by considering online mentions of the party leaders, associated sentiment and offers insight into their own use of social media. Tomorrow we’ll look at issues and how they’re playing out online.
This week’s analysis looks at June 2 through 8, inclusive, with a few looks at campaign-to-date.
Tim Hudak leads share of mentions, 2nd place gets tighter
Not only does Tim Hudak still have a commanding lead in share of leader mentions, his share increased over last week from 54% to 57%. Kathleen Wynne held on to second place, maintaining her 22% share while Andrea Horwath fell back, dropping 3% to a 19% share. Mike Schreiner hung on to his 2%.
The important thing to remember is that the volume of mentions is only part of the story. Sentiment is also an important measure. We’ll get to that shortly.
While Tim Hudak maintained his lead in share of leader mentions since the election began, the race for second got much tighter as Andrea Horwath transfered 1% of her share to Kathleen Wynne. The result is Tim Hudak held at 57%, Andrea Horwath now sits at 21%, Kathleen Wynne improves to 20% and Mike Schreiner held at 2%.
Lots of negativity
There are three aspects to measuring online sentiment. First is understanding whether people are saying positive, neutral or negative things about the politicians and their campaigns. Second is understanding the political affinity of the participants. Third is determining if the politicians are gaining or shedding support.
Noticeable movement in sentiment over last period
Since last week’s analysis, negative mentions of Kathleen Wynne increased 3% to 64% at the same time as positive improved 4% to 20%. Meanwhile, Tim Hudak’s sentiment situation improved as volume of criticism fell 7% to 77% and positive increased 4% to 16%. His neutral/none sentiment mentions also improved 2% to 7%.
Despite her third place standing in mentions during the evaluation period, Andrea Horwath is enjoying a much happier sentiment situation. Her positive mentions increased 18% to 58% and criticisms decreased 9% to 24%. Andrea Horwath’s neutral/none sentiment mentions also fell 9% to 18%. Mike Schreiner’s leader-leading 82% positive mentions is a 7% improvement over last week. His neutral/none mentions fell 7% to 15%, while criticisms held at 3%.
Our analysis is based on manual coding of sentiment in a random sample of 800 tweets mentioning the leaders.
There has been an increasing number of tweets in the last week in which people share that they have voted in advanced polls, have or will be voting in a certain way, or encouraging others to get out to vote. Getting an exact measure of support and doing a credible analysis of political affinity in a short time is challenging given how freely variations of the word “vote” are being used within the chatter including in discussions about MPP and leader voting records.
However, there are a growing number of people making their voting decisions public.
Clearly our sample reveals a skew away from the right end of the political spectrum. This resembles research we conducted last year on how Canadian opinions are shaped by online information and interactions. Our 2013 Matters of Opinion report includes an illustration of the “Engaged Canadian” as being politically left of centre. We’ll be conducting research for the 2014 edition of this report beginning next month.
Shuffle in allegiances
Tweets which indicate a change in political allegiance are rare, though they do happen. Based on a quick scan using obvious terms, we observed on the order of about 50 in the last week.
Despite the growing online criticism of Kathleen Wynne, most of the defections observed show support moving in the Liberal direction. There are also some tweets indicating shifts to the NDP and Greens. We did not see any defections to the PCs.
The following are some sample “defection” tweets.
Taking “social” out of social media
The leaders of the big three parties are using their Twitter accounts as (infrequent) broadcast channels rather than as tools of engagement. This, of course, takes the social out of social media. We’ve observed similar strategies on their Facebook properties.
Mike Schreiner’s approach is very different from his counterparts. While he does issue fresh content, his online presence is largely driven by engaging with others — answering questions, discussing policy and sharing experiences. It’s an easier play for him given the significantly smaller level of online activity surrounding the Green Party. It also allows him to respond to questions and concerns which can make people feel heard.
In all cases with the leaders, their usage patterns have been consistent throughout the election. This includes the number and style of tweets issued.
The table that follows reveals the number of tweets issued by each leader, followed by the number of regular tweets (communication), retweets (amplification) and replies (conversation).
|.. Regular||87 (100%)||22 (96%)||51 (94%)||29 (20%)|
|.. Retweet||0||1 (4%)||1 (2%)||70 (47%)|
|.. Reply||0||0||2 (4%)||48 (33%)|
Liberals increase their lead over the NDP
Mentions of the Liberals are helping them pull away from the pack. Their 2% increase in share of mentions, combined with a 2% drop in NDP mentions widened their lead to 6%. The PCs held steady at 15% while the Greens picked up 1% to 9%.
It’s a real race for first place when we consider all election chatter to-date. In this analysis, the NDP fell 1% from last week’s analysis to 38% while the Liberals managed to pick up 1% to 38%. The PCs are a distant third holding on to their 16% share and the Greens to their 8% share.
Issues and how they’re playing out online.