Twitter predictions may not be accurate when it comes to elections. A study found that mentions on the micro-blogging site are not suitable for election forecasts as they only show whether candidates are creating interest among people or not.
More tweets, more votes: a flawed logic
Twitter mentions do not show the number of votes a candidate will get. Researchers concluded that Google could give a better forecast of elections as tweets do not translate into votes due to biased users and inclinations for defamatory gossips and scandals, the study found. The study, which focused on the 2013 German federal election, found that Twitter data is more appropriate in showing the amount of attention candidates are getting from the public rather than the number of votes they will receive.
“Negative events, such as political scandals, as well as positively evaluated events, such as accomplishments, can [both] underlie attention for a party or candidate,” the study said.
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The study does not support the simple “more tweets, more votes” logic. For example, a video clip of a candidate can go viral if he/she does something unusual, but that does not indicate the level of support the candidate will receive.
“The daily volume of Twitter messages referring to candidates or parties fluctuates heavily depending on the events of the day – such as televised leaders’ debates, high-profile interviews with candidates – or the coverage of political controversies and scandals,” the study stated.
Twitter user base “highly skewed”
Also Twitter users do not represent the demographics of the population as a whole, the study concluded. The study found that Twitter’s user base is “highly skewed” and farther from being representative of the whole population. In contrast, Google is fitter when it comes to election results.
According to Bloomberg reports, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, who were the respective winners of the Republican and Democratic primaries in the state of New Hampshire, were the parties’ top searched-for candidates in the state.
Google searches of the presidential candidates in New Hampshire on Feb. 9 were almost equivalent to the voting results of the state’s primary, says Bloomberg. Bernie Sanders was the top-searched Democratic candidate with 60% of the vote in New Hampshire, whereas Hillary Clinton came in second.