Predicting the Next President of the United States Using Twitter Analysis
In the history books when they come to write down the name of the President of the United States of America 2012, little will be said as to how they got there. Key battlegrounds and events may be mentioned but a main feature of this year's election campaigns will probably not be written about. In 2008 the year that Obama won his first term, Facebook had only just released it's instant messaging service and the newsfeed was only a year old, whilst Twitter was only two years old and was only being used by the early tech massive.
The campaigns this year has had a social feel, hash tags have been used in advertising, plenty of specific campaigns targeting social networking users and Mr Obama even went on Reddit for a Q&A and didn't get a battering.
We thought it might be cool to find out what the current swing states* (whom will decide who the de-facto leader of the western world will be) are saying on Twitter. We've used sentiment analysis and looked at influencers before when talking about Football but for one day only We Play become We Politicise.
* In United States presidential politics, a swing state is a state in which no single candidate or party has overwhelming support in securing that state's electoral college votes.
Who will win based on Sentiment?
We've looked at all the Tweets mentioning 'Romney' or 'Obama' in the entirety of the swing states over the last week and using a sentiment score, which figures out the positivity of what's being said on each day and quantifies it out of 100. We then averaged all the days out and before you can say God Bless America we have each candidates 'Positivity' score - that being the percentage of positive things being said directly about them from Twitter users.
The scores are:
Below are the two graphs, which represent the sentiment.
Fig. B - Sentiment chart for Mitt Romney over past seven days
So first blood goes to the incumbent president. Sadly we couldn't look at each State individually to get a better look about who may win where but an interesting fact is that neither candidate has over a 50% preference rate. This highlights why these are 'Swing states' as neither candidate are preferred so more work is put into to convert the vote.
If we convert these statistics into a voting turnout, we can look at how the electoral registers per state (which decide on the President) match up and here we can see how each candidate would fare.
Fig. C - Sentiment converted to votes
Based on our sentiment analysis then Obama is only two electoral votes off from winning majority whilst Romney is a massive 25 electoral votes off from a majority. With most commentators giving Obama a percentage lead in both Ohio and Pennsylvania (of which carry a large amount of electoral votes) based on this we believe that Obama will win.
Who will win based on Tweets?
The sentiment stuff is very pretty and gives us some interesting talking points, but the hard data doesn't actually give us an outright winner, so we'll now look at complete mentions.
Fig. D - Twitter mentions - Obama vs Romney over past seven days
Figure D show's the mentions of each candidate with Obama in blue and Romney in green- it's clear that Obama is in the lead over the last week. Both candidates were neck and neck until October the 29th and then Obama took over in mentions in all swing states.
Figure E shows the amount of Tweets that each candidate has garnished over the past seven days. Obama has over 100'000 more mentions over the past seven days than Romney.
If we however look at the swing states over the last month then it's been neck and neck with Romney leading Obama at times. Figure E shows the last 30 days.
Fig. F - Past 30 days Twitter mentions - Obama vs Romney
Over the past 30 days, Obama has 150'000 more mentions than Romney, 100'000 of which as we've already found, that have occurred in the past seven days.
Who has the most influence?
We also took a look at the most retweeted tweets over the past seven days. Figure G is the top influential tweets over the last week. All 10 (Which to remind you again are sourced from the Swing States) endorse Obama.
So who will win based on all this this? Well commentators have been saying whoever can come out of Hurricane Sandy with the momentum will have the edge on the election.
Hurricane Sandy hit the United States on the 29th of October . What we've found is that Obama started edging Romney in mentions in the swing states on the 29th of October.
There are no figures to back it up, but it may be that the fourth most expensive storm in US history could have saved Obama his job.
Now before we get ahead of ourselves, all of the above is a mixture of data analysis across Twitter and our own analytical commentary. We're believe that the demographic most likely to vote for Obama is more likely to be using Twitter. We also know that Obama has more celebrity backed public endorsements, which by its nature leads to more influence on sites like Twitter.
With all that said though we also think that the direct change after Hurricane Sandy and the momentum leading into the polls from it will give the election result to Obama.
Barack Obama to win
We think that Obama will win with over 300 electoral votes but no higher than 310
If we get this we're taking a week off work prediction:
Obama to win with 307 electoral votes.
Follow Luca Massaro on Twitter