First UK Election Debate

April 16 2010

The results from a twitter analysis of the first UK election debate on April 15th between Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg are published below. We looked at what Tweeters were saying about the potential leaders and the topics they were speaking on.

Preliminary results of the linguistic analysis of 211,000 tweets sent by 47,420 twitterers from 8.30pm – 10pm on the night of the first UK election debate, April 15 2010. The overall tweet analysis (Figure 1) shows that 65% of twitterers who expressed an opinion said that Nick Clegg performed best, followed by Gordon Brown (21%), and then David Cameron (14%). In contrast, the immediate post-debate poll by Sun/YouGov put Clegg ahead at 51%, Cameron at 29%, and Brown at 19%.

Figure 1 shows the number of tweets that expressed a positive sentiment towards each of the party leaders.

The analysis identified tweets saying that a particular leader was doing well or made a good point, or that they like the leader, etc.

Linguistic filtering removed examples which were about expectations, e.g. “I hope the leader will do well”, questions, such as “anyone think the leader is doing well?”, and negations, such as “the leader did not do well” or “the leader made no sense”.


Figure 2 shows winner per topic from number of relevant positive tweets


Tweets were broken down into a list of topics by identifying words or phrases which described the discussion subject, for example Trident, nuclear weapons, armed forces, military, and Eurofighter are assigned to defence. The tweets were then analyzed to find out who was saying positive things about each leader in relation to a specific topic.

Figure 3 shows the percentage of specific topics won by each leader

This is an aggregation of all positive tweets about each leader with specific reference to any one of the topics. The same data is used for both Figure 2 and Figure 3.


Figure 4 shows number of times a particular topic was mentioned per leader

This analysis is based on the transcript and not the tweets. As before, topics are not just a mention of a word, but bring together words or phrases which have similar meaning. It shows how important a particular topic was to a leader based on how many thimes they mentioned it during the debate.