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The Australian Leaders’ Debate

How the Electorate Really Felt

 

Most negative sentiment was about Abbott. Gillard and Abbott positive sentiment the same.

Accurately gauging the sentiment of the electorate requires more modern techniques and technology than the two dimensional worm or Nielsen Polls.

Our study captured real comments from over Twenty thousand Australians. The data has yielded both a quantifiable sentiment indices and qualitative comments.

By analysing the real time Twitter stream for keywords, #tags and @names, PeopleBrowsr’s Analytic.ly tool has been able to provide an insight into the psyche of the Australian voting public.

34,099 Tweets posted during the debate have been analyzed.

Beyond looking at the opinion of a sample of 150 Australians controlling the worm, Analytic.ly listened to everyone who was twittering about the debate.

And whereas the worm can only give a win/lose answer to who won the debate, results from Analytic.ly show Julia Gillard won the debate but not with an overall positive sentiment,

just a lot less negative sentiment than Tony Abbott.

Julia Gillard finished the evening with an overall positive/negative sentiment value of 31%/40% compared to that of Tony Abbott at 31%/46%. That 6% difference in negative sentiment is the intelligence Abbott’s advisers will be working on to help him gain victory at the election.

During the debate the #tag #ausvotes (the most popular #tag for this election) was mentioned 2643 times with either positive, negative, neutral or unrelated sentiment as this chart shows.

Overall sentiment for the debate was generally negative at 49% and just 31% being positive. The male/female split of this data was very similar with men being just 2% more negative than women and only 2% more positive.

 

On debate night from 2pm to midnight, when Australia realised it was a school night and went to bed, there were 34,099 tweets about the debate with a frenzy of commenting during the closing statements of both leaders at 6:54 and 6:57pm.

The Twitter skew was significantly male (M:F 13,868:9,302 or almost 3:2) for 2pm to midnight.

Immigration/boat people was the most Tweeted about subject with 1600 Twitter mentions during the debate and almost that many by the leaders themselves. This even caused the uninvited 3rd party leader to weigh in: ‘@SenatorBobBrown: The word "boats" is getting much more prominence "schools", "hospitals", "pensions", "farms" or "trains"’

@inkswitch “gillard the USA coast guard are allowed to shoot the boats why cant aus asa country?”

@dan99iel “Abbott is a bit insensitive to them. "STOP THE BOATS. SINK THEM ALLLLLLL!”

@nichkhunftw “Gillard = born in Wales, Abbott = born in England... See what danger comes via boat?”

Fair dinkum was a close second with 1200 Twitter mentions.

@mrdoman “Tony Abbott said 'fair dinkum'... Christ this could be a long night... #debate”

@saltmarsh “I was just about to question on Twitter how long it'd be before Abbott said "fair dinkum". Dropped it as soon as I touched keys #ausvotes”

@MaxwellKeeble “’Fair dinkum’. No-one uses that term unless they're trying to win office in Australia. Linguistic condescension for the fail. #debate”

The worm itself was a minor star of the debate (for the wrong reasons) with over 2500 Twitter mentions as users questioned its reliability, accuracy and impartiality to what was

being said.

@BigBogan “The worm is totally lame. #ausvotes”

@bernietb “’Technology of the worm’ - It's not a technology, it's a graphic that's given

way too much importance. #AusVotes #MassDevate #ABCNews24”

@Cutto1 “I don't think #abcnews24 has the worm, but I'm not certain. I hope it doesn't. I hate the #bloodyworm. #ausvotes”


Malcolm Turnbull received a small number of very positive mentions:

@raffeg “RT @dannolan: If Malcolm turnbull was standing there the Liberals would have already won. #debate #ausvotes”

@AnthonyChisholm “One week into the campaign, in QLD we have seen more of former leader Turnbull than we have of current Leader Abbott!”

@oberonsghost “Get real Tony. If Malcolm Turnbull were still leader, the CPRS would be a non-issue. #ausvotes #cprs #debate”

One aspect of the leaders’ debate the worm failed to pick up on at all was the question of Julia GIllard’s ears and ear lobes. Twitter mentions totalled 900 for this important national

topic.

As well as being a tool for gauging sentiment, Twitter also allows debate to rage between viewers as opposed to remaining simply spectators.

Take for example a selection during the debate:

@Liza_Oh “Tony Abbott is the new holder of the land speed record for boring me to death #debate”

@SixteenCandles “RT @MylesPeterson: @CUhlmann @farrm51 @latingle - Can you plz ask the leaders to clarify their position on the internet filter? #Debate”

@Jbyway “How about you come clean on the net filter during the #debate”

PeopleBrowsr has also developed Election.ly, a real time sentiment dashboard of the electorate with regard to the 2010 Australian Federal Election.

For more details contact Priscilla Scala priscilla@peoplebrowsr.com, PeopleBrowsr Product Manager, and Jodee Rich jodeerich@peoplebrowsr.com, PeopleBrowsr CEO.

About PeopleBrowsr

PeopleBrowsr is a Social Search engine and a Conversation Mine that looks into the heart of digital conversations and engages across multiple networks simultaneously. Equaling about 65 million tweets a day, PeopleBrowsr has full access to the Twitter Firehose, so not one conversation is overlooked. We are an intelligent data service provider to the enterprise. We are a powerful social network tool for individual users. To learn more, visit About PeopleBrowsr http://bit.ly/aboutPB. To learn more on PeopleBrowsr’s thoughts on the collective stream of consciousness, see our presentation at http://bit.ly/analyticly.


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