Earlier this week I looked at the use of the word ‘recession’ in the context of the UK economy. Following the downgrade of the US debt I had a similar look at the debate on the US economy.
The first chart shows the share of online mentions that use the word ‘recession’ in relation to the US economy.
It is clear that there has been a substantial increase in the index since March and that the level in August has surpassed the previous peak of August last year.
But while the mentions of Ben Bernanke seemed to correlate well with the mentions of recession last year, the story is different this time. Notice how the focus on Bernanke has gone down in July and August when the focus on ‘recession’ has gone up.
The explanation might be that the problems this time around are more centred on political issues or the inability of politicians to deal with the issues.
The second chart seems to indicate that this time there is a better correlation between the mentions of ‘politicians’ and ‘recession’ than ‘Bernanke’ and ‘recession’.
Note: The charts are adjusted for the measured influence each “voice” has in the debate on the US economy. For example, compared with the New York Times (the most influential), FT weighs in with 59%, Guardian with 43% and the blog Seeking Alpha with 15%
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 (email@example.com) 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like further information on findings presented in this blog post.
The UK Budget 2011 is announced today and has been driving a significant amount of the current politics debate.
Spending cuts are a key concern for many, but some publications are taking a different slant. There is an interesting article in this week’s edition of The Economist about the ‘Big Society’. Please click on the following link for the online PDF version of the edition, see pages 18 and 19 for the article referenced in this post: www.economist.com. The article summarises some of the political history leading up to the current day, discusses recent political actions and spells out some of the ideals of the coalition Government. Summing up the main strategy of the Big Society: “It brings together three things: pluralism, localism and voluntarism”.
The Big Society: How will we get there?
The article outlines some of the fundamental steps that will be taken in order to achieve the Big Society and predicts some of the potential outcomes and consequences of these. Common misconceptions of the knock-on effects include the extent of reductions to the civil service: “Pluralism could lead to a much smaller civil service than anyone thinks. ‘Once you start letting people compete, it is incredible how few people you need in the centre,’ says one of Britain’s most senior mandarins. And, since the change is technocratic not political (the state, after all, is still paying), it will be difficult for a future Labour Government to reverse”.
The strategy also entails a certain amount of decentralisation of power to local government, but The Economist highlights that: “This localism is somewhat marred by the Tories’ deep distrust of local government”.
Learning to trust is not the only problem facing the coalition Government in the journey to the Big Society. Pushing the concept of volunteerism is also likely to present its own obstacles. The article points out that even some of David Cameron’s peers have their doubts: “Volunteerism […] is a big idea. The people around Mr Cameron argue that just reducing the supply of government won’t wean people off the state; you also have to reduce the demand for it […] In practice, however, the idea has flaws […] most people lack the time and expertise required, and there is not a lot of money around to help them (thanks to the spending cuts).”
A poignant example highlights a sizeable portion of the problem: “Britons seem to band together of their own accord only when they want to oppose something – such as the Government’s plans to sell off the nation’s forests, which they halted”.
Where is the money coming from and where is it going?
The Economist visually splits out Britain’s spending and receipts in the UK Budget 2010:
Source: www.economist.com page 19
How is it really going to work?
With a number of hurdles to surmount, the article underlines the key determining factor: Implementation, pointing out that the method is crucial: “Unless reform of the state is seen to be equitable and effective, citizens will not accept it”.
The analysis doesn’t stop there, but draws attention to two further issues: the Government’s breadth of ambition (“set against that of Mrs Thatcher, who did far less in her first year”) and that “most other rich-world governments will have to do the something similar soon. That is partly because of their fiscal situation: even America will have to start reconciling its revenues and its spending in the near future”.
“Mr Cameron, for all his haste, is at the front of a great wave” – we’ll be keeping our eyes open for the emergence of the next Big Society.
Read the full article here:
www.economist.com - See pages 18 and 19 of the PDF version of the edition.
It’s been a couple of months since we discussed politics or the election on our blog; however, we continue to monitor the influence of various sites and voices using InfluenceMonitor™ and have seen the below results in this past week which are interesting.
Table 1 below shows the top 15 influential voices on politics in the UK. It also shows their change in influence since last week.
Table 1 - Top 15 Voices on Politics (UK) – W/C 4th Oct 2010
Table 2 shows the 10 voices that gained the most influence since last week.
Table 2 - Top 10 Gainers since last week
Mentioned in the above listings are: Guardian, www.guardian.co.uk BBC, www.bbc.co.uk Telegraph, www.telegraph.co.uk BBC News, www.news.bbc.co.uk, Independent, www.independent.co.uk Daily Mail, www.dailymail.co.uk Total Politics, www.totalpolitics.com FT, www.ft.com LibDemVoice, www.libdemvoice.org News Statesman, www.newstatesman.com Iain Dale, www.iaindale.blogspot.com Telegraphs Blogs, www.blogs.telegraph.co.uk Conservative Home, www.conservativehome.blogs.com Spectator, www.spectator.co.uk LabourList, www.labourlist.org Jewish Chronicle, www.thejc.com Guido Fawkes’ Blog, www.order-order.com Paul Waugh, Evening Standard, www.waugh.standard.co.uk Taxpayers Alliance, www.taxpayersalliance.com Number 10, www.number10.gov.uk This is London, www.thisislondon.co.uk FT Blogs, www.blogs.ft.com Scottish National Party, www.snp.org
Reading the World Wide Web
With the internet now a mainstream media, and the majority of households in the UK having broadband accounts – it is understandable that the internet has now grown to such a size that it can be overwhelming, and sometimes confusing when searching for specific information. According to Google, the number of unique URLs online has surpassed 1 trillion and continues to grow rapidly. If this content could be sorted, categorised and filtered into relevant intelligence it could be hugely valuable for organisations and governments alike.
In our new White Paper released today Using the Internet as a Market Research Database, we have taken the UK Election as a case study and used InfluenceMonitor™ to do the leg work for us in trawling the internet for relevant content enabling us to draw some very interesting and insightful conclusions.
Download our White Paper here: Using the Internet as a Market Research Database to find out more about some of these findings such as: how changes in the daily election poll results could be estimated by measuring the changes in the relative amount of online discussion.
Click on the icon below to download a copy of the complete White Paper as a PDF:
Alternatively, view a slideshow that gives an overview of the White Paper:
The below graph shows the Share-of-Influence for various election issues from 22nd April to 5th May.
The comparison issues (Hung Parliament, Expenses Scandal, and Electoral System) were also major stories during the election and selected here to provide a benchmark for measuring the scale of the Bigot-gate story. The chart shows us:
- Bigot-gate (and associated terms) were discussed more than any of the benchmark topics for two days, the 28th and 29th of April.
- Among the other issues selected, Hung Parliament was discussed the most.
- Bigot-gate declined rapidly in Share-of-Influence after the 29th of April but did continue to be widely discussed on May 5th.
The chart below shows the daily sentiment score associated to Gordon Brown between 6th April and 6th May. The daily sentiment score gives immediate insight about the overall positive or negative opinions about a product or brand, or in this case, Gordon Brown. A shift in sentiment can indicate a positive or negative shift in a brand’s value or perception. We can see from the below graph that:
- Over the study period Gordon Brown was associated with negative sentiment scores.
- From 6th April to 22nd April the daily sentiment score for Gordon Brown was decreasing. (This suggests that relative incidents of negative terms, on pages mentioning Gordon Brown, were increasing).
- On the 28th April there was a massive drop in Sentiment score. This date coincides with the ‘Bigot-gate’ event.
Change is an election buzzword, and ‘Vote for Change’ was part of a major advertising campaign. By monitoring how often this word is associated with each party or party leader we gain immediate insight regarding how much traction the relevant campaigns obtained.
The below graph shows the association analysis of David Cameron and Nick Clegg matched to the word ‘change’ in the UK election debate. If one of the party leaders was mentioned with the word ‘change’ more often than the other, their relative Share-of-Influence in relation to that word would increase. Our UK Election debate sample includes data from 77,000 sites between 29th March and 6th May. This association analysis shows:
- Nick Clegg had relatively low Share-of-Influence in the week of 29th March; this means that relatively little discussion included his name with the words ‘election’ and ‘change’ at that time compared to David Cameron.
- In the week of 5th April Nick Clegg made a gain, from 5% to 25%. This gain was disproportionate: his Share-of-Influence when ‘change’ was mentioned was twice that of his overall Share-of-Influence for that time: only 12 % (see dashed line below).
- In the weeks of 29th March and 19th April, Nick Clegg continued to make gains in his Share-of-Influence, overtaking David Cameron. This evidence supports the hypothesis that among the party leaders it was Nick Clegg who was gaining attention relative to the other leaders and the one who was most associated with change at that time.
- The growth trend in Nick Clegg’s Share-of-Influence did not continue past the week of April 19th; following that week, David Cameron regained his lead in Share-of-Influence from Nick Clegg and became the candidate most associated with the word change in the last few days preceding the election.