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 new participants continue to join online election chatter offering opportunities to measure new expressions of sentiment and stance. 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 May 20 through 25, inclusive with a few looks at campaign-to-date.

Tim Hudak has the greatest share of online mentions

There were some shifts in share of voice since last week’s analysis. Despite losing a 10% share, Tim Hudak maintains his runaway lead (52.2%). Andrea Horwath still holds second (27.4%, up 6%), Kathleen Wynne third (17%, up 4%) and Mike Schreiner (steady at 3.4%). 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.


Considering the campaign-to-date, the number shift at a smaller scale from the same analysis last week. That is, Tim Hudak sheds a 5% share to fall to 57%, Andrea Horwath picks up 1% to 22%, Kathleen Wynne picks up 4% to 18% and Mike Schreiner falls 1% to 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.


It takes a lot of effort to study these things particularly since there’s no shortage of online content and technology isn’t yet able to accurately measure sentiment. This is an even more complex problem when it comes to political content which often has multiple sentiments in the same message. There are also challenges of background, history, issue, irony and sarcasm (among others).

The big three leaders have all experienced an increase in negative sentiment in the last week. Criticism of Tim Hudak (who leads in negative mentions) increased from 67% between May 2 and May 19 to 84% between May 20 and May 25. During the same period, Kathleen Wynne’s negative mentions increased from 34% to 57% and Andrea Horwath’s from 30% to 40%.

Tim Hudak’s positive mentions remained static (9%) while Kathleen Wynne’s increased from 11% to 22% and Andrea Horwath’s from 22% to 33%. At the same time, all experienced a drop in neutral mentions, suggesting partisan commentary has increased since the first evaluation period.

Mike Schreiner’s in a league of his own. He and the Green Party are generally not on the radar of more established political partisans. This has apparetly kept the criticism at bay. Positive mentions of Mike Schreiner increased from 47% to 84%, driven heavily by his appearance on TVO’s The Agenda and suggestions he take the Northern Ontario debate space made vacant by Tim Hudak who declined to participate in the event.

Our analysis is based on manual coding of sentiment in a random sample of 800 tweets mentioning the leaders.


Political affinity

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

We did not observe any defections within the sample.

Welcome to the broadcast

As noted last week, the campaign teams likely have their leaders on a fairly tight leash when it comes to online activities. We’ve already seen examples of online content pulling leaders off message. So, it’s no surprise the leaders of the big three parties are using their Twitter profiles 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.

Even worse, the leaders are issuing content and then telling their supporters to like and share content “if they agree.” While this may be effective at getting retweets, it can come off as a bit desperate.

Mike Schreiner’s approach is very different from his counterparts. While he does issue fresh content, his online presence is largely driven by responding to questions and engaging in online exchanges. 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 interests, concerns and questions which can make people feel heard. For a leader who has been afforded very little mainstream media attention, social media are extremely valuable in helping him reach the public. At the very least, it allows him to reach and stay in close contact with his connected base.

The table that follows reveals the following:

  • the number of tweets issued by each leader, followed by the number of regular tweets (communication), retweets (amplification) and replies (conversation)
  • the number of times each leader was mentioned in tweets issued by others (and by how many unique Twitter accounts) with breakouts of regular tweets, retweet and replies
 Kathleen Wynne
Tim Hudak
Andrea Horwath
Mike Schreiner
Tweets issued821127132
.. Regular81 (99%)10 (91%)24 (89%)18 (14%)
.. Retweet01 (9%)3 (11%)67 (51%)
.. Reply1 (1%)0047 (35%)
(3,865 accounts)
(4,167 accounts)
(2,749 accounts)
(696 accounts)
.. Regular1,895 (17%)2,267 (21%)1,654 (22%)302 (16%)
.. Retweet5,811 (54%)5,367 (50%)4,094 (54%)1,290 (67%)
.. Reply3,160 (29%)3,022 (29%)1,866 (24%)323 (17%)

The mention gap between NDP and Liberals widens

There were also some noticeable shifts in online mentions of the parties since last week’s analysis. Specifically, the NDP picked up a 9% share to 46%, the Liberals lost 4% to 33% and the PCs lost 6% to 33%. The Green Party held at 8%.


In the campaign-to-date, the NDP gained 3% to a 40% share of mentions, the Liberals lost 2% to 35%, the PCs dropped 2% to 17% and the Greens held in at 8%.


Coming tomorrow…

Issues and how they’re playing out online.

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