140 Characters to Victory?: Using Twitter to Predict the UK 2015 General Election

8 Pages Posted: 8 May 2015

See all articles by Pete Burnap

Pete Burnap

Cardiff University

Rachel K. Gibson

University of Manchester

Luke Sloan

Cardiff University

Rosalynd Southern

University of Manchester

Matthew L. Williams

Cardiff University - School of Social Sciences

Date Written: May 6, 2015

Abstract

The election forecasting ‘industry’ is a growing one, both in the volume of scholars producing forecasts and methodological diversity. In recent years a new approach has emerged that relies on social media and particularly Twitter data to predict election outcomes. While some studies have shown the method to hold a surprising degree of accuracy there has been criticism over the lack of consistency and clarity in the methods used, along with inevitable problems of population bias. In this paper we set out a ‘baseline’ model for using Twitter as an election forecasting tool that we then apply to the UK 2015 General Election. The paper builds on existing literature by extending the use of Twitter as a forecasting tool to the UK context and identifying its limitations, particularly with regard to its application in a multi-party environment with geographic concentration of power for minor parties.

Keywords: Election Forecasting, Twitter, Sentiment Analysis, Opinion Mining

JEL Classification: D72, C63, C80

Suggested Citation

Burnap, Pete and Gibson, Rachel K. and Sloan, Luke and Southern, Rosalynd and Williams, Matthew L., 140 Characters to Victory?: Using Twitter to Predict the UK 2015 General Election (May 6, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2603433 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2603433

Pete Burnap (Contact Author)

Cardiff University ( email )

Aberconway Building
Colum Drive
Cardiff, Wales CF10 3EU
United Kingdom

Rachel K. Gibson

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

Luke Sloan

Cardiff University ( email )

Aberconway Building
Colum Drive
Cardiff, Wales CF10 3EU
United Kingdom

Rosalynd Southern

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

Matthew L. Williams

Cardiff University - School of Social Sciences ( email )

The Glamorgan Building
King Edward VII Avenue
Cardiff, Wales CF10 3WT
United Kingdom

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