This year's European Elections have been perhaps one of the most hotly contested of recent years, with the UKIP campaign driving much of the media conversation, says Marcos Angelides, head of social, at communications agency Way to Blue.
It is all very well grabbing the headlines, however, but if that does not translate to creating positive, social conversations which drives voters to the polling booth, then are all the policy announcements, doorstep canvassing and the party leader photo opportunities really worth it?
Way To Blue has drilled the data and can reveal the social conversation findings for the 2014 European Elections in the UK. The data was taken from 16 to 22 May, and looks at discussions taking place within the UK.
We examined the volume of discussion around each of the main parties and looked into the level of conversation expressing intentions to vote, as well as desire for a certain party to win. We call this Intent-to-Vote/Win.
However, we also thought it would be useful to examine the sentiment around the leading five parties. Positive sentiment could involve retweeting a tweet by a party leader, or sharing a newspaper article showing the party in a positive light as well as expressing a positive opinion about that party.
Many parties try to initiate this kind of discussion on social channels to demonstrate a groundswell of support. Political parties, like any major brand, need to use this with care as demonstrated by UKIP’s use of the #WhyImVotingUkip hashtag.
Instead of being a positive call to arms for party supporters, this became an opportunity for the public to respond with satire and humour. To ensure we were getting an accurate representation of discussion these were removed from our insight.
In addition to the above, Way To Blue looked at the buzz around the main party leaders, to discover which one is having the biggest impact on the public.
Overall party Buzz and Intent-to-Vote
- Unsurprisingly, given the media furore surrounding the party, UKIP have topped the chart in terms of volume of buzz around the European Elections, with 192,517 mentions.
- Out of these mentions, 2,988 expressed an intent-to-vote for the party. This is the highest intent-to-vote among all the parties we looked at.
- Coming second in terms of overall party buzz is the Labour party with 70,157 mentions.
- Out of these mentions, 945 were discussing voting for the party at the ballot box, placing it third in terms of intent.
- The Conservative Party has some work to do to steal momentum back from UKIP. It came third in terms of overall buzz with 51,945 mentions.
- With 893 intent-to-vote mentions, the Conservatives came fourth in our intent rankings.
- The Green Party are the other main winners. Despite coming fifth in terms of volume of buzz with 31,884 mentions, just behind the SNP, 961 of these mentioned voting for the party. That’s the second highest in our chart. It seems like the Green surge really is happening.
- The biggest casualties this election will be the Liberal Democrats. It came sixth in terms of absolute buzz with 18,047 mentions and also sixth in terms of intent with 362 mentions.
- Again, UKIP wins here with its leader Nigel Farage securing 69,415 mentions in the past week. However, as Farage is perhaps the most recognisable of all of his party and tends to be the sole media representative, this is not surprising.
- Coming second in terms of party leader buzz is David Cameron with 36,774 mentions associated with the European elections.
- Ed Miliband comes third with 23,444 and Nick Clegg ranks in fourth place with 11,162 mentions.
- This is where the Green Party really comes to the fore. It achieved the highest percentage of positive sentiment (59%) out of all parties monitored, and the lowest percentage of negative sentiment (3%).
- To the electorate, the Labour Party are the ‘Marmite’ party of this election. It ranks second in terms of positive sentiment with 38%, but rank 47% negative, higher than all the other parties we looked at.
- UKIP came third in terms of positive sentiment (18%) and 34% negative, the second highest level of negative discussion we saw. UKIP has some way to go to make social discussion around its party more positive.
- The Conservatives secured 8% positive sentiment and 33% negative, and the Liberal Democrats came last in terms of positive discussion with 7% positive and 22% negative.
So when it comes to Europe, voters in the UK are becoming more defined in their choices. They either want to totally opt-in and embrace Europe and a left-wing philosophy or, on the other side of the coin (Euro of Pound depending on preference), they reject Europe and its ideals wholeheartedly.
The middle ground is being squeezed, and the big casualties of this come results day on Sunday, Way To Blue predicts, will be the Liberal Democrats.
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