Twitter: The Canary in The U.S. Elections Coal Mine

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Happy Post-Election Day! The digital democracy has arrived! Did you know that it’s possible to pretty accurately predict elections via Twitter? Yes, Twitter has been a leader in conversations around the elections.  So much so, that it’s been determined to have predictive qualities. It’s time to start listening to the tweets of the predictive bird.

What does this mean? This digital democracy could have the potential to take the job of campaign professionals. According to the Washington Post, research has shown that social media platforms are fairly accurate indicators of public opinion. Many people publicly post about their beliefs, which has shown to be a pretty good predictor of their political affiliations/voting style.

But how accurate is this bird’s song? According to a study from Indiana University, researchers were able to predict the winner in 404 out of 435 competitive races. They analyzed 542,969 tweets that mentioned a Democratic or Republican candidate for Congress in 2010.

Talk is cheap…except on Twitter. The study also found that the candidates that were most talked about, even negatively, were likely to win the race. In this case, any publicity is good publicity. Many social media users feel comfortable having discussions online because of its anonymity. So, more often than not, people are posting their true feelings about subjects, including political ones.

Here are the facts: President Obama has one of the most followed Twitter accounts with 49.2 million followers. His account has gained more and more popularity as his tweets become more frequent. Posts that used #elections2014 reached 12.4 million timelines. Followers and tweets show the growing power of politics online via the digital democracy.

What’s next? Social media, especially Twitter, has proven to be a good indicator of what’s on the minds of Americans. It would be beneficial to candidates, Congress, and the President to take note of what is being talked about, because more often than not, the discussion is around social change.  Those running for office need to listen to the tweets, it may be their best bet to end victorious.

Social media analysis is extremely important for elections to come. Traditional polling will always remain useful – there’s something about getting a sticker that says you did your American duty! But, social media has shown itself as a force to be reckoned with when it comes to forecasting elections.

The means for political discussions are changing. Change is no longer limited to the voice of the upper class and politicians.  Social media encourages discussions amongst everyone in the U.S., all you need is Internet access. The data is in front of us. People like talking about the changes they wish to see. In fact, they’re practically yelling it on social media platforms for the world to see. It may be time for the people who have the power to change things start listening to the tweets of America, or they’ll be left blind in a coal mine with a gas leak.

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