Election chatter is showing us the issues that don’t require much time or space to discuss and/or offer an emotional connection get the most attention — a fact that was further proven today with election chatter about the Auditor General’s report on the G8 summit. I’ll blog about that separately. This post focuses on the on the first 14 days of the election.

If the online discussion is used as a barometer of election issues, taxes were the number one issue after two weeks based on the following numbers of mentions:

  • Blogs 9,263
  • News 32,990
  • Forums 9,046
  • Tweets 181,164 (one tweet nearly every 7 seconds, 24 hours/day)

SIMPLE AND EMOTIONALLY DRIVEN ISSUES GET MENTIONED

The amount of coalition talk in the first and early parts of week two made it the number two most mentioned issue. I’m guessing coalition will find its way into the debates which may allow it to stay in the top five by the end of week three. Amazingly, coalition still holds down the number one position for most mentions in Twitter. In fact, four of the five most mentioned topics in Twitter are well suited to the role since the issues aren’t heavily nuanced, making them easy to comment on in 140-character bursts. In fact, those same four are, at their core, emotionally driven issues (coalition, #emayin, screening/control and contempt).

A quick legend of the issues:

  • #emayin – the exclusion of Elizabeth May from the televised debates
  • Harper Questions – Stephen Harper restricting media to a daily question limit
  • Screening/Control – Conservative Party “bubble” including screening event participants through Facebook
  • Healthcare – relating to healthcare
  • Contempt – relating to the Government being voted in contempt of Parliament
  • One-on-one – relating to the one-on-one debate challenge between Harper and Ignatieff
  • Liberal Platform – relating to the online launch of the Liberal Platform
Period Overall Blogs News Forums Twitter
Election to-date Taxes
Coalition
Harper Questions
Screening/Control
#emayin
Harper Questions
Taxes
Coalition
Screening/Control
#emayin
Taxes
Harper Questions
Screening/Control
Coalition
Healthcare
Taxes
Coalition
Harper Questions
Screening/Control
Contempt
Coalition
Taxes
#emayin
Screening/Control
Contempt
Week 1 Coalition
Taxes
Harper Questions
#emayin
Screening/Control
Harper Questions
Coalition
Taxes
#emayin
Screening/Control
Taxes
Harper Questions
Coalition
Screening/Control
Healthcare
Coalition
Taxes
Harper Questions
Contempt
Economy
Coalition
#emayin
Taxes
Contempt
One-on-one
Week 2 Taxes
Screening/Control
Harper Questions
Liberal Platform
Healthcare
Harper Questions
Taxes
Liberal Platform
Screening/Control
Healthcare
Harper Questions
Taxes
Screening/Control
Liberal Platform
Healthcare
Taxes
Harper Questions
Screening/Control
Liberal Platform
Economy
Screening/Control
Taxes
Liberal Platform
#emayin
Healthcare

While we can expect a lot of chatter during the debate, it’s likely the issues that are easy to frame and abbreviate into 140 characters that will get the most traction. Issues loaded with details won’t carry very far.

In fact, it’s the nuance of issues that kept some MPs from tweeting. I spoke with Liberal MP Wayne Easter in September 2010. At the time we spoke it had been about six months since he’d last tweeted. During that time the long-gun registry issue had been hotly debated and voted on in the HoC. When I asked Mr. Easter why he wasn’t tweeting any longer he indicated that many issues are nuanced making it difficult to have a meaningful discussion on the microblogging service. A short time later he began tweeting again. :)

Some issues are better suited to in-person discussions, blogs, podcasts or videos. Which supports the argument that politicians should have an integrated strategy using multiple digital communications channels to help them promote their values, explain their issues and help constituents make a voting decision.

Earlier today a group of us joked that Kim Campbell was ahead of her time when she professed the power of simplicity in election campaigns.