The referendum on the Alternative Voting system in the UK took place last week and the ‘No’ campaign won the vote. This concurs with our finding in our white paper: Using the Internet as a Market Research Database: Revelations of the UK Elections 2010; that relative share of the online debate reflects voting behaviour. In our white paper we found that changes in daily election poll results could be estimated by measuring the changes in the relative amount of online discussion. In our analysis of the global English debate on the Alternative Vote we found that the ‘No’ Campaign generated a larger share of the online debate and this indeed reflected voters’ preference in the end.
The referendum to decide whether to introduce a new voting system to replace our current first-past-the-post system is taking place today. We have been tracking the debate on the Alternative Vote (AV) since the 1st January 2011.
We posted our first blog on this topic on the 14th April 2011.
As might be expected, discussion of AV has increased dramatically since January and in the first five days of May there has been more debate than what was seen during the whole of March! AV is clearly a hot topic but let’s have a look at discussion of the different campaigns:
The ‘Yes To AV’ campaign generated marginally more buzz between January and March than the ‘No To AV’ campaign, however, during April ‘No To AV’ came into focus, only for the ‘Yes’ campaign to move marginally ahead during the first week of May. That said, the volume of coverage is only part of the story; the influence of the voices and the sentiment of what is being said also need to be taken into account.
Overall, ‘No To AV’ has been slightly more discussed and has proved more popular among influential stakeholders. Interestingly, the ‘Yes To AV’ campaign has featured in more polarised coverage than the ‘No’ campaign, appearing in a sizeable proportion of negative posts and only slightly more positive posts. Whereas, when those posts are weighted for the influence of the different voices in the debate, the landscape changes dramatically; the ‘No To AV’ campaign features in 25% unfavourable debate while ‘Yes To AV’ campaign appears in only 21%. Essentially, those who are influential in the debate are discussing the ‘Yes’ campaign in a more positive light. The first five days of May have proved particularly negative for the ‘No’ campaign, but will sentiment determine the results of the referendum or will the high volume of ‘No’ discussion put that stance in the forefront of the public’s mind? In order to establish the overall picture we need to analyse the influential voices in the debate.
So let’s have a look at how the top 20 most influential websites in the global English debate on AV have changed since the last time we looked at them:
For information on how we calculate influence please see our blog post looking at the key influencers in the debate on the Royal Wedding.
There has been considerable movement in the top 20. The most noticeable change was Iain Dale’s Diary, which was knocked out of the top 20 by new entrant, the Financial Times. Although the top five stakeholders have held their rank, the rest of the top 20 has been somewhat reshuffled. Total Politics Magazine experienced the greatest increase in influence over the time period, closely followed by the Liberal Democrats Website.
At this point there are still more websites in the top 20 dedicated to the Liberal Democrats than any other party. Nevertheless, the Conservatives are indeed present in the top 20 and furthermore, both Conservative-focused websites have become more influential in the past few weeks.
It will be interesting to see if the high levels of discussion signify a No in today’s referendum or if strong sentiment and influential voices encourage a Yes from the UK electorate.
Report compiled during the period 1st January 2011 – 5th May 2011. Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like further information on findings presented in this blog post.
The referendum to decide whether to introduce a new voting system to replace our current first-past-the-post system is fast approaching. We have been tracking the debate on the Alternative Vote (AV) since the 1st January 2011.
For information on how we calculate influence please see our blog post looking at who is influential in the debate on the Royal Wedding.
We found the top 20 most influential websites in the global English debate on AV:
Table 1: Top 20 Influential Stakeholders in the Debate on the Alternative Vote
||Liberal Democrat Voice
||London Evening Standard
||Conservative Home Blogs
||The Spectator Magazine
||The Liberal Democrats Website
||The New Statesman
||Next Left Blog
||Left Foot Forward Blog
||Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors
||Total Politics Magazine
||UK Polling Report
||The Daily Mail
||The Conservative Party Website
||Iain Dale's Diary
Interestingly, at this stage, the Liberal Democrat Voice is the most influential politics-focused website. Furthermore, of the nine websites dedicated to a particular political party, five of those had a penchant for the Liberal Democrats, compared to three for the Conservatives and one for Labour. Whether this will have an effect on the results of the referendum, we will have to wait and see.
Report compiled during the period 1st January 2011 – 12th April 2011. Please email me (email@example.com) if you would like further information on findings presented in this blog post.