So today is the big day of the General Election and we’re just left to sit in a bizarre radio silence while the polls remain open that seems unearthly following the past hectic 4 weeks. I’ve been watching and participating in various social media channels to add my 2 cents (so to speak) on policy, parties, debates and discuss with fellow Tweeters and Facebookers. I’ve enjoyed the last four weeks, except for the distraction element!
We know that the opinion polls are essentially meaningless, and who knows anyone who knows anyone who has ever been polled anyway? Assuming there is some validity in them, over the past four weeks we have come to see a pattern. Starting with The Conservatives in front, they lost a number of points to the Liberal Democrats following the leader’s debates. This has been particularly fascinating, as we may now need to upgrade Peter Snow’s (well, it’ll always be Peter’s, Jeremy) Swingometer to the third dimension. Points have been traded between all three parties, but particularly between The Conservatives and The Liberal Democrats.
One party’s performance has remained consistent, however. Labour has been losing points and sat at third place across most polls taken last night (5 May 2010). Yet, if you look at Twitter, you’d not see that pattern. Yesterday, I pinned my flag to the post as far as my voting inclinations, and this resulted in a number of people replying to me telling me of their disappointment and whether they would unfollow me, or not. We had a bit of a debate and I imagine threats to unfollow me were in jest. I expect that only people who disagreed with my views would take the time to reply, but watching my stream today seems to be of the same opinion – that of the left of the political spectrum.
So is Twitter and Social Media in general, just a bunch of Lefties?
Consider a Twitter search for “Tory”. Run your eyes down there and count how many are pro and how many are against a Conservative government. It seems people go out of their way to actually tweet “not Tory”, as opposed to who they voted for.
So while people are possibly tweeting in a left-of-centre manner, that’s not necessarily due to lack of effort by other parties. TweetMinster has been an excellent service in the last few weeks and has profiled the live Twitter feed according to region, issue, party and MP. Their analysis shows that both top parties are more or less equally represented – bit this is in candidates and MPs, not the “public vote”. So while David Cameron has specifically used Social Media and his various MPs have actively engaged with the electorate on Twitter, in an “Obama-style” campaign, it doesn’t seem to be doing him any good. In fact, it seems to be turning against him.
I would be a fool to think that this identifies any patterns which may be played out this evening, but it is a question worth asking. Does Social Media attract a more left-of-centre userbase? At first sight, it appears it does.