Will Canada’s Election Be Won Using Social Media?

In  2008 when Barack Obama won the US presidential election, a lot of folks said that it was because of his and his team’s embrace of social media. The Obama campaign reached out to millions of people using social mediums like Twitter and Facebook. Some even say that his campaign helped bring social media to the attention of a lot of people who had never thought anything of it previously.

Last Friday, an election was called for Canada and already people are saying that it is going to be a “social media election.” Essentially, people seem to think that whichever Canadian political party can make the best use of social media will have this election in the bag. Whether that will be the case or not still remains to be unseen, but we can see already that people are using social media to talk about the election.

Using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics platform, we took a look at the online chatter over the past five days since the election was called. In the past five days our system found almost 2,500 blogs, 10,000 online news articles, 2,600 forums posts and 72,000 tweets coming from Canada mentioning the election. Those tweets had a possible reach of 70.8 million impressions. Not bad for a country of 33 million.

Our popularity chart shows just how much talk was going on each day by medium. We can see that the day of the election announcement brought the most attention to the subject. The following days show less chatter about the election, but not a huge drop off.

A look at the demographics of Canadians talking about the election online shows that aside from the under 20 population, all ages seem to be talking about the election equally. Both 21-35 and 35-50 year olds hold 33.3% of the conversation respectively, with the 51 and over crowd right behind them at 31.3%. However, while age distribution appears to be fairly even, there seems to be three times more males talking about the election than females.

A break down of Canadian provinces shows that a majority of election talk is coming from Ontraio, Canada’s most populated province and also the home of it’s capital city Ottawa.

Looking at our buzzgraph, we can see that talk for the past five days seems to be mainly about the candidates that will be running. We can see mentions of the big political parties the Conservatives, the Liberals, the NDP and Bloc Quebecois along with their respective leaders Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe.

Next, we decided to compare Canada’a three largest parties the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP to see which party was getting the most attention. Here, the Liberals appear to be the most talked about party so far.  The Conservatives, who are currently in power, started with more talk than NDP but the NDP has since taken the lead in social mentions.

When we looked at how sentiment panned out across the three parties we found that all three seem to be in an almost dead even race. Currently the NDP holds the most positive sentiment at 50%, but the Liberals and Conservatives are not far behind at 48% and 47%. There also was not much difference in negative sentiment with the NDP at 20%, the Liberals at 22% and the Conservatives at 21%.  While the Liberals are ahead in overall mentions, sentiment shows that there doesn’t yet seem to be a clear favourite or most disliked party.

Lastly, we pulled up word clouds for each of the parties. Again we see talk that resembles just the beginnings of an election. Lots of talk about the parties themselves and their leaders. However, with bit.ly being one the larger words in the Liberals word cloud we can say that more links are being shared regarding them than the other parties. As well, the NDP word cloud shows that they are talking a lot about their party leader, Jack Layton, who’s name appears larger than any other party’s leader in their word clouds. Also, we see the NDP discussing the upcoming debates. While these word clouds don’t show much insight now, it will be interesting and valuable to see how each party’s word cloud changes as the election race continues.




Canada is still in the very early stages of it’s election process, but the internet is already buzzing about it. Social media will almost undoubtedly play a large role in how Canadians talk about the election amongst one another, but it’s hard to say if it will play a large role in propelling one candidate or party ahead of the others. For more interesting coverage of the Canadian election check out Mark Blevis’ blog where he is working with the Canadian Press and using Sysomos to follow the election through social media.

9 Comments on “Will Canada’s Election Be Won Using Social Media?”

  1. Do you have stats on which individual politicians are the most popular – most Klout – on Twitter? I would assume @justinpjtrudeau is up there, but it would be great to see who is really using it effectively.

    Great post!

  2. Great post Sheldon. I agree with your conclusion that it’s uncertain how social conversations will impact results at the ballot box. Also, social sentiment and volume have not proven to be predictive of electoral results.

  3. Hi Jill,

    I don’t have that data on hand right now as I didn’t look at it for this post, but that’s a good idea for a future post as the election continues.


  4. Thanks for the shout out, Sheldon. It’s great to see others looking at the data as well.

    It’s interesting to see you share some of the charts. I haven’t shared the demographic data yet since it’s based ONLY to blog authors who disclose gender, location, age, etc. That data is not derived from Twitter. I’ll be digging into my blog assessments next week.

    I’ve also stayed away from sentiment (which I blogged about this morning) since the tool still doesn’t negotiate sarcasm very well and the volumes of data make it impossible to validate accuracy. Also, in some cases it’s hard to say whether the positive applies to the pro or con stance of an issue.

    Whatever happens, don’t forget to vote!

  5. @Jill… Klout scores will be all over the pace since established politicians have had the benefit of earning Klout over time. Newcomers will falter.

    It’s also important to remember that a lot of the digital election talk has been of a macro nature. I’ve referred to this as mass globalization of the election. People need to remember that the vote happens at the constituency level so the focus should be shifting to hyper localization. Too much emphasis on the leaders could present problems for communities. You have to consider your candidates first.


  6. It would be interesting to get tweets and blogs going and see where the candidates stand on people having miore than one legally recognized spouse at the same time.

  7. Social media can help get something noticed and make it an election issue. So let’s give it a try. Let’s make NATIONAL BROADBAND POLICY an election issue.

  8. @Mark, You’re right on all points, but I still thought some of those stats would be interesting to share. This is by no means to be seen as accurate polling of any sorts, but rather a quick snapshot of what’s going on so far.

  9. Pingback: Analysis of Online Chatter Over First 5 days of Political Campaigns « Clarqui.com

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