Green party leader Elizabeth May has always struggled to be included in election debates. But an analysis of tweets sent during #MacDebate suggests she emerged as the dominant and most influential voice.
BuzzFeed Canada is working with social data analysis platform Nexalogy to track and analyze online discussion about the federal election. In advance of, and during, last night's debate, Nexalogy captured all of the tweets sent using the #MacDebate hashtag.
We then used its platform to dig into the data and see which trends stood out. May's success is one clear storyline. The data also showed that Thomas Mulcair of the NDP did a good job linking Prime Minister Stephen Harper with a recession.
Prior to the debate, the most influential Twitter accounts were, in order: @MacleansMag, @ElizabethMay, @JustinTrudeau, @PMHarper, @InklessWells (the moderator), and @ThomasMulcair.
After the debate was over, Elizabeth May owned the top spot. She was followed by Trudeau, Harper and Mulcair. The Green Party account was also the most influential party account.
May's impact is notable given that an Ottawa Citizen analysis found that she spoke the fewest words during the debate.
Hashtags are another sign of May's debate success. We looked at the hashtags most associated with May during the debate, and they tended towards the positive.
In contrast, for example, one of the more popular hashtags that was specifically related to Harper was #StopHarper.
Interestingly, #FirstNations was one of the more popular unique hashtags associated with Thomas Mulcair. That is likely in part thanks to this favourable tweet about him from the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
An analysis of the terms that were closely linked to each leader also showed that Mulcair was effective at connecting the concept of a recession with Harper.
This image shows that Harper's name (the large red node) was closely aligned with talk of a recession (small red node). Mulcair's name is also closely related, as it shows up as a large orange node that links to both Harper and "recession."
"When we dive deeper into the data we see that the NDP has hung the recession around Harper's neck," said Nexalogy CEO Claude Théoret. "Recession is the eleventh most important concept associated to Harper and the biggest issue behind the senate and taxws (carbon, Netflix and other). Inspection of the tweets reveal that a vast majority of people credit Tom Mulcair with calling out and getting the PM to admit that we are probably in a recession."
Aside from the leaders, it's worth noting which tweets overall proved to be the most popular during the debate. Here are the top five most retweeted tweets from #MacDebate, in order of the number of retweets.
Craig Silverman is Media Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto.
Contact Craig Silverman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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