Political Traction: How it's done

Each week on Power & Politics, Navigator's Jaime Watt compares the top issues in Ottawa to what Canadians are really talking about. Learn more about how the top issues are ranked.
Political Traction with Navigator's Jamie Watt appears weekly on Power & Politics.
Political Traction takes a closer look at the top public affairs issues being discussed in Ottawa to evaluate how well these issues resonate among everyday Canadians.

Jaime Watt’s team at Navigator conducts a daily opinion scan to identify the issues most talked about in Ottawa by parliamentarians, national editorialists, and on political talk show programs.

Navigator’s goal is to use this data to calculate the share of voice for the top issues discussed in Ottawa.

The share of voice will express the weight of the top issues discussed in Ottawa as a percentage of the attention dedicated to each issue each week.

Question Period

Navigator tracks the questions and answers during federal Question Period. The team assigns a point value to each question. Points reflect the importance of the question.

The Navigator point system gives greater priority to questions asked and answered by MPs, according to their leadership position in the House of Commons.

Results are then complied by issue and added to Navigator’s tracking formula.

Leader of the Opposition5Prime Minister5
Member of the Opposition4Cabinet Minister4
Leader of the Liberal party3Parliamentary Secretary3
Member of the Liberal party2  
Bloc Québécois or Green Party1  

Public Affairs Programs

Every week Jaime’s team watches a collection of Canada’s leading public affairs programs. They track the top issues being discussed across all programs. Issues are ranked by the broadcast minutes dedicated to each topic. This data is used as part to help determine the share of voice.

National Editorials

Navigator reads a collection of Canada’s leading columns and editorials. They measure the number of occurrences for each issue mentioned in their editorial list. This information is used to help determine top issues.

Calculating share of voice by topic

To determine the share of voice of the three (or four) topics most frequently mentioned across broadcast, in editorials and columns, and during federal Question Period, Navigator applies the appropriate data to an algorithm (see all the algorithms here) to express the attention dedicated to each issue as a percentage of the total conversation across platforms.

'Zoomed in' top issues

Following a calculation of the total share of voice, Navigator calculates the share of voice of the top three or four issues when compared to one another. This will offer a closer look at the conversation taking place around these issues: Who is saying what? How are they saying it? What does it mean?

For this calculation, Jaime’s team ignores the miscellaneous topics mentioned throughout the week in the zoom-in algorithm.

What are Canadians saying? How does Canada compare?

Once Navigator has identified the top-of-mind issues in Ottawa, they evaluate their overall impact against the everyday public affairs conversations happening amongst Canadians. They accomplish this by determining the extent to which Ottawa’s conversation mirrors broader Canadian conversation. Navigator creates a keyword library for each issue. This library is constructed by using vocabulary taken from Ottawa’s conversations.

Using Radian6 technology, Jaime’s team scans social media for mentions and impressions of keywords in their issues library. They put emphasis on where engagement occurs online: Twitter, Facebook, news blogs, forums and video. Their goal is to evaluate the extent to which Canadians:

  •  Share Ottawa’s concerns
  •  Are disinterested in these topics
  •  Take a different view

'Zoom in' top issues

To take a closer look at the social media conversation occurring on the top four issues, Navigator uses an algorithm that divides the number of posts on a topic by the number of posts on the top three (or four) topics.