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more tweets, more votes: wired magazine

A few weeks ago, Wired magazine discussed how you can use social media data to improve political forecasting. From Emma Ellis:

Traditional polling methods aren’t working the way they used to. Upstart analytics firms like Civis and conventional pollsters like PPP, Ipsos, and Pew Research Institute have all been hunting for new, more data-centric ways to uncover the will of the whole public, rather than just the tiny slice willing to answer a random call on their landline. The trending solution is to incorporate data mined from the Internet, especially from social media. It’s a crucial, overdue shift. Even though the Internet is a cesspool of trolls, it’s also where millions of Americans go to express opinions that pollsters might not even think to ask about.

And they were kind enough to cite the More Tweets/More Votes research:

According to Fabio Rojas, a sociologist at Indiana University who conducted a study correlating Twitter mentions and candidate success, “More tweets equals more votes.”…

Social media data gives you a sense of the zeitgeist in a way that multiple choice questions never will. “Say I wanted to learn about what music people are listening to,” says Rojas. “I would have to sit down beforehand and come up with the list. But what if I don’t know about Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber?” Polls are generated by a small group of people, and they can’t know everything. Social media is a sample of what people actually talk about, what actually draws their attention, and the issues that really matter to them.

That sentiment matters, and pollsters can (and in PPP’s case, do) use it to direct their questioning. “People clue us in on stuff online all the time,” says Jim Williams, a polling analyst at PPP. They even ask the Internet where and on what they should poll next, hence Harambe’s presence in its poll. But, Williams says, joke suggestions aside, Twitter’s input also helps pollsters include the finer points of local and national politics. And even the Harambe question itself actually tells the pollsters something interesting.

Interesting stuff.

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Written by fabiorojas

September 2, 2016 at 12:01 am

2 Responses

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  1. As usual, Wired oversells its ideas. If each individual social media channel can be weighted appropriately according its demographics, they could be valuable additions to traditional land-line polling. Until then they’re blunt instruments.

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    rskurat

    September 2, 2016 at 9:57 am

  2. Prior to the social media frenzy pollsters used land line telephone calling. Even at my age I do not have a land line so from whom are the pollsters getting their opinions. The music that we listened in my younger days told people what we were thinking. I certainly wasn’t going to express my views to a random telephone caller. I would think to obtain broad opinions today social media is the place to go. Thanks for your info and update.

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    Phil's Personal Perspectives

    September 4, 2016 at 12:50 am


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