UPDATE 3:30pmET: Full Duplex has revised the search criteria and updated the analysis of Twitter users which have sounded-off regarding the Senate scandal. This post remains relevant (even if some of the numbers are out of date). You might also wish to read CDNpoli trends – May 22, 2013 to see the updated numbers.
I wrote Nigel Wright’s resignation and PMHarperMustResign ignite CDNpoli on Monday. Among the main points I tried to get across is that the growing senate scandal motivated a significant increase in #cdnpoli chatter — on a long weekend to boot — and that, while the number of tweets calling for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to resign was substantial, the number of people issuing those tweets was relatively low.
My ongoing analysis of online chatter about Canadian politics typically relies on the #cdnpoli hashtag since it’s much easier to identify relevant conversations even if the resulting analysis amounts to a look at a self-selected focus group of people interested in (or committed to) political or hyper-partisan chatter. This helps identify issues of importance since these discussions, like the reports issued by Hill journalists, emanate outwards as though travelling through a web of connected networks. We have the ability to measure that spread.
The one limitation of this approach is it fails to consider the larger reach of significant issues — the senate scandal, for example. Many Canadians are tweeting about the issue and expressing their frustration and anger with the key players (Mike Duffy, Nigel Wright, Pamela Wallin), Senate, Conservative Party, Prime Minister’s office and the Prime Minister himself without using or knowing of the #cdnpoli hashtag. Analyzing the broader conversation demands patience and an iterative process to ensure the identification of relevant chatter is as accurate as possible. This means developing a complex boolean search which captures as much signal as possible while eliminating as much noise as possible.
I’ll spare you the details. Instead, let me offer you a quick summary of my findings.
Within #cdnpoli (that self-selected, real time focus group), I identified that 12,288 people have issued tweets about the cascading senate scandal, expressing near-unanimous anger with the Government & PM from May 15 through May 21 inclusive.
When I expanded the search to include tweets not tagged with #cdnpoli, I discovered 43,585 tweeters have joined the online chatter about the cascading senate scandal, expressing near-unanimous anger with the Government & PM from May 15 through May 21 inclusive.
And that’s just Twitter. There is a growing number of news reports, blog posts and forum mentions which I’m reluctant to share at this time since I haven’t yet had the opportunity to ensure the number of identified mentions is accurate.
With activity growing everyday as new pieces of information trickle out, as the Prime Minister drags out his media availability to discuss the issue, as questionable decisions are made with respect to investigating the matter, I don’t anticipate this issue going away anytime soon. The question is, will the online chatter sustain its momentum?