Ontario election 2014: Tim Hudak wins Twitter mentions, but not Twitter sentiment
Ottawa's Mark Blevis analyzes Twitter election chatter data
An Ottawa-based digital public affairs strategist says that of the top three party leaders, Progressive Conservative party leader Tim Hudak boasts the most mentions on Twitter, though the majority of them are negative.
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"Tim Hudak is far and away the most mentioned provincial leader in election chatter, but 84 per cent of the mentions of him between May 20th and May 25th were negative, which doesn't leave a lot of room for positive or neutral mentions," says Mark Blevis.
"He's winning in mentions, but not necessarily winning in sentiment."
Blevis says a lot of the negative comments have been made in response to his million jobs plan, especially in recent days.
"[People] instantly start to scrutinize it, especially when you follow up the one million jobs announcement with 100,000 cuts. Then you start to open yourself up to scrutiny, as we've seen online. And then of course the other campaigns, the media, analysts all start to wonder if this really has merit, so they invite experts in to the conversation. And then you see announcements like, really it's a 75,000 jobs plan," Blevis says.
To compare, about 54 per cent of Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne mentions were negative. NDP leader Andrea Horwath, meanwhile, boasted the highest number of positive mentions from May 20-25.
The analysis shows that about 37,000 people have participated Ontario election chatter up to May 25, in about 327,000 tweets.
Twitter is centre-, centre-left-leaning, analysis shows
But the people using Twitter don't fully represent the Canadian population. Blevis says Twitter users generally lean towards centre and centre-left on the political spectrum.
"We do see some declarations of support for Tim Hudak, but our take, our analysis ... is that people who are participating online willingly are generally probably centre, centre left. Obviously with some centre right and right mixed in, but it's smaller numbers," Blevis says.
The top issue on Twitter has been employment, followed by education, taxes, energy and the economy.
Interestingly, Blevis says that while Horwath has recently been trying to turn the conversation from jobs and the economy to accountability, that message isn't gaining steam on Twitter.
"Andrea Horwath's biggest challenge right now is getting that message to resonate with a community beyond just the NDP ... But even among them, it's fairly low energy," Blevis says.
He also says online mentions of former Liberal party leader Dalton McGuinty's legacy are very low, along with mentions of the Ornge air ambulance administration and gas plants scandal.
But Blevis says the Twitter conversation isn't likely to affect the outcome of the election.
"I don't think Canada is digitally mature enough yet ... where online activity will skew an election," he says.