This year’s UK election is full of landmarks and firsts. Not only did we witness the first ever televised debate with the top candidates but this year’s election has also attracted a growing number of digitally savvy citizens. This was made no more apparent than during last week’s debate between top candidates for Downing 10 – the most-tweeted ever. The 90 minute debate was followed by 38,000 twitterers who busily wrote over 180,000 tweets.
Okay, the debate was tweeted. So what!? I hear you say… Today people tweet about pretty much everything and nothing at all. However the BBC asked Lexalytics, an American firm to put its clever “sentiment-analysis” service to work on the twitter community. What Lexalytics essentially did was to feel the pulse of the twitterers to develop a type of sentiment barometer based on the language and tone of the 180,000 tweets. The end result makes a fascinating read, as it maps out how the twitterers reacted to the different answers given by the candidates.
Polling the social media community is most probably not truly reflective of the general public opinion but shouldn’t be entirely disregarded either. There are some great sentiment analysis applications out there. Take tweetminster, which is a constant real time sentiment tracker that not only tracks what potential voters are tweeting about the elections but also gives a geographic breakdown of the tweets. It also follows all the tweets from MPs and PPCs (Prospective Parliamentary Candidates).
It looks like this year’s election is going to be a tweeted one. UK politics seems to be firmly in the hands of Britain’s digital natives.