Researchers from Indiana University have suggested that social media platforms such as Twitter could be the future face of election polls.
In a study analyzing 537,231,508 tweets from August 1 to November 1 in 2010 and data from 406 competitive U.S. congressional elections provided by the Federal Election Commission, the research team found that name mentions and voting margins are connected.
The team say that while studying the Republican vote margin in the latest election, mentions of candidates on Twitter correlated with voting. Although the findings don't specify whether these results were positive or negative, it probably doesn't matter -- if you find a candidate interesting enough to talk about publicly, that in itself means something.
"Think of this as a measurement of buzz," Fabio Rojas, an associate professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington told Phys.org. "We call this the 'all publicity is good publicity' finding. Even if you don't like somebody, you would only talk about them if they're important."
"With over 500 million active users in 2012, Twitter now represents a new frontier for the study of human behavior," the study says, suggesting that social media could become a new way to measure electoral popularity, and should not be ignored in the computational social science world.
Polls and surveys used to be the main ways to check public opinion, but now perhaps all we need to do is head over to Twitter or Facebook.
Via: The Verge
Image credit: ZDNet