General Election 2017: a Twitter Analysis

Reports & Briefings

This work is produced by researchers at the Neuropolitics Research Lab, School of Social and Political Science and the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.

In this report we provide an analysis of the social media posts on the British general election 2017 over the month running up to the vote. We find that pro-Labour sentiment dominates the Twitter conversation around GE2017 and that there is also a disproportionate presence of the Scottish National Party (SNP), given the UK-wide nature of a Westminster election. Substantive issues have featured much less prominently and in a less sustained manner in the Twitter debate than pro and anti leader and political party posts. However, the issue of Brexit has provided a consistent backdrop to the GE2017 conversation and has rarely dropped out of the top three most popular hashtags in the last month. Brexit has been the issue of the GE2017 campaign, eclipsing even the NHS.

We found the conversation in the GE2017 Twitter debate to be heavily influenced both by external events and by the top-down introduction of hashtags by broadcast media outlets, often associated with specific programmes and the mediatised political debates. Hashtags like these have a significant impact on the shape of the data collected from Twitter and might distort studies with short data-collection windows but are usually short-lived with little long term impact on the Twitter conversation. If the current polling is to be believed Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to do as badly as was anticipated when the election was first called. Traditional media sources were slow to pick up on this change in public opinion whereas this trend could be seen early on in social media and throughout the month of May.

GeneralElections2017.pdf (2.06 MB, application/pdf)