In anticipation of the election tomorrow, we decided to check in on twitterers to see what they are saying about the election on #exln41 over the last couple days. Based on a sample of ~5K tweets, we built a ‘who-retweets whom’ network on Twitter for the period between April 27-30 (see below). Using this network visualization, we then identified the top 10 most retweeted accounts.
Note: Each dot/node represents a Twitter user who posted or was mentioned in at least one message in our dataset. The size of each node represents how often that user is being mentioned or retweeted on Twitter. Lines represent who retweeted or mentioned whom on Twitter.
Although we chose pink to represent twitterers in the network visualization above, the top 10 most retweeted accounts on #elxn41 were actually a mix of red and orange this weekend and a tinge of green, as you will see in the discussion below.
Top 10 most retweeted accounts on #elxn41 (April 27-30)
@wikileaks has been dominating the #elxn41 Twitterverse during the last couple days. Although many Twitter users questioned the timing of the release of wikileaks’ information on Canada, this didn’t stop them from frequently retweeting messages from @wikileaks such as this one:
- “@wikileaks: US embassay questions legitimacy of Harper budget. Its skewed for election”
Andrew Coyne (@acoyne), a national editor of Maclean’s magazine is second on our list of top 10. His endorsement of the Liberals received a lot of attention from twitterers. Another account whose endorsement of a political party also generated many retweets was @torontostar with their endorsement of NDP. (@torontostar is #14 on our list.)
The third place was taken by supporters of @m_ignatieff and @liberal_party (#17 on our list) who have been especially active the last few days retweeting messages from and about Ignatieff and the Liberal party. This is probably to combat some not very positive trends in recent polls for the Liberals. One of the most popular retweets from the Liberals was about an online game-parody called Angry Bairds based on the very popular Angry Bird video game launched by Young Liberals. (available at angrybairds.ca)
Rosemary Barton (@RosieBarton), a CBC National reporter, is in 4th place on our list. She is covering NDP during this election campaign and her tweets are often retweeted, presumably by NDP supporters. This is not surprising as NDP has been doing well in recent polls and are getting a lot of attention in the media. So it’s only natural that this trend will also reflect on the Twitter chatter. In fact, @Jacklayton’s account gained ~12k new followers within the last 2 weeks, which is twice as many new followers as Harper and Ignatieff attracted for the same time period.
The 5th spot on our list is occupied by Jian Ghomeshi (@jianghomeshi) who is the host of the national daily talk program Q, on CBC Radio One and Bold TV. With an astonishing 53k followers on Twitter, Jian’s messages are often retweeted by his most loyal followers. One of his most popular tweets this weekend was the following
- “A last-min story about a massage visit in 1996 (!) to affect opinion? Really? What a shamefully cynical reading of the Cdn public. #elxn41” (referring to the Sun Media’s report that NDP leader was found in a Toronto suspected bawdy house in 1996).
It is often said that Canadians don’t vote people in, but more often than not, vote them out. @prjktdemocracy is an account that seems to live up to this adage. It promotes the Projectdemocracy.ca website. It is an anti-Harper anti-conservative website that invites its visitors to check local polls for their ridings and then it gives a recommendation for whom they should vote to “‘amp up’ your vote and stop a Harper majority”. One of the features of this website allows its users to post their personalized recommendations to Twitter or Facebook which earned this account a spot on our top 10 list.
7. @democracycanada and 8. @can_ada
Both are active users who tend to post left-of-center messages. Interestingly, with a relatively smaller number of Twitter followers than other accounts on this top 10 list (2,634 followers for @democracycanada and 520 followers for @can_ada), they still were able to take the 7th and 8th place correspondingly. This is likely because their messages resonated with a high number of other active Twitter users this weekend. (@democracycanada has already appeared on our previous top 10 list.)
The Green party leader’s appearance on the top 10 list doesn’t come as a surprise. As we reported previously, Elizabeth May has one of the most active and loyal followers on Twitter comparatively to her rivals.
Closing out our top 10 list is Stephen Wicary (@wicary), an online political editor for the Globe and Mail). One of his most retweeted posts this weekend was about a video with Peter Russell, a constitutional expert, who talks about the Harper Government’s contempt (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEsXSb_JJSU). In addition, Stephen Wicary is an active and influential Twitter user, he also follows and retweets messages from other influential users such as @acoyne.
It’s very exciting to see so many people turn to social media during this election to participate in our democracy. It’ll be interesting to see if this excitement online will translate into a higher voter turn out. Our lab is looking forward to the election tomorrow; check in with us on Monday evening for updates on the election from the world of social media.