This is the first in a series of five posts in which I will share analysis of how the the recent federal election (#elxn42) played out online. While I expect I will write a fair bit about the election over the coming weeks and months, this series specifically shares data analysis covering the entire election period. This first post looks at overall Twitter activity. Analysis in the post was conducted using Sysomos MAP.

Be sure to follow the digital activities of our newly-elected MPs on Our Digital Parliament.

Twitter trend graph

Twitter played host to 3.4 million election-related tweets spanning August 2 through October 19, inclusive.

The most active days were election day, debate days and days on which significant events occurred including the emergence of policy-related issues (e.g. niqab, refugee crisis) and gaffes or memes (e.g. discovery of Ala Buzreba’s inappropriate social media posts, “peegate”).


The volume of activity is staggering, particularly when compared to Twitter activity related to the last federal election. The 2011 campaign generated a total of 716K tweets with election day (including speeches) driving 114K. This means there were more 2015 election tweets issued the day the election was called than there were on election day in 2011, and more tweets issued on election day 2015 than there were during the entire 2011 campaign.

Hashtag analysis

The most popular hashtags during the campaign were (in order): #globedebate, #macdebate and #munkdebate. However, the top three hashtags were fluid throughout the campaign, with a few notable weeks.

The first week’s top hashtag was #macdebate, the official hashtag of the Macleans/Rogers debate which took place on August 6, just days after the election was called. The Liberal campaign’s #realchange was number two and #tm4pm, promoting NDP leader Tom Muclair for Prime Minister came in third.

The following two weeks (Aug 9-15 and Aug 16-22) were dominated by the Duffy trial (hashtags #duffy and #duffytrial) and the third week saw the emergence of #harperman, the hashtag associated with the “viral” anti-Harper song written by Tony Turner and performed by Mr. Turner and a collection of his friends.

The NDP’s position remained strong during this time in the election, reflected by #tm4pm hanging on to a top three position for the three weeks that followed (Aug 30-Sep 5, Sep 6-12 and Sep 13-19). During this period there was a revolving door of other popular hashtags including #peegate and #oldstockcanadians.

Hashtags associated with the cluster of debates dominated the next two weeks (Sep 20-26 and Sep 27-Oct 3).

The final two full weeks (Oct 4-10 and Oct 11-17) of the campaign present a marked shift in the top three hashtags. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (#tpp) took the number one then number three position, while #stopharper and #canada only appear in the second last week. The final week we see that speculation on which province and its politics will play a prominent role in the outcome of the election as #onpoli and #bcpoli hold the final number one and number two spots before election day.

Since they’ve come up in some conversations, here are the counts of some key hashtags:

  • #niqab: 50,500
  • #peegate: 46,849
  • #harperman: 40,253
  • #duffytrial: 33,809
  • #oldstockcanadians: 23,548
  • #peoplelikenenshi: 19,990
  • #harperanetflixshow: 12,781