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2012-11-05

Tomorrow’s election in the US

Yes: we, as many others, have followed the US elections in the social media. There are many measurements of social media mentions out there, some thorough, some others little more than simple counting. (The fundamentals of the actual issues, polls, and electoral mechanisms are best summarized by Peter Norvig.)


Ethersource has been reading social media posts on the main US presidential candidates for the past year or so. Based on this reading, our analysis is that

  • Obama will stay in the White House.

… which appears to be in agreement with what most bookies, pundits, and polls predict today.

As we have shown in previous posts on this blog, we have been thinking hard about which measures best capture political attitude in the social media, and what sort of attitude best translates to prediction of results. We already know that people do not usually waste bandwidth on plain simple endorsements or statements of personal voting intentions, but in general use their space for more or less thoughtful predictions of the candidates’ chances to carry the election. Aggregating these sentiments and opinions gives us a prediction market of sorts, composed on those representatives for the electorate who write in social media. We show here our PPI score – an intensity-normalised positivity index for the two main candidates – since mid-August, in a line graph.

Intensity-normalised positivity for the two main candidates since August

Intensity-normalised positivity for the two main candidates since August

As a visualisation experiment, we can show the same data in a quicktime clip, for the two main US presidential candidates since August, with the X-axis showing positive attitude, the Y-axis the intensity-normalised positive attitude and the size of the ball the frequency of mention for the candidates. (High and upper right corner and large ball: good.)



These data show that the candidates’ mentions appear to track each other well (indicative of a close election) and that the incumbent has the edge. Based on these and our other measurements, we believe Obama will stay in the White house.

Category: case studies