In the corporate world, marketers measure hashtags on social media to gauge the success of their campaigns. We wondered: are hashtags effectively influencing the political realm? Can we predict the outcome of presidential races by analyzing hashtag performance? A new analysis using Netvibes Dashboard Intelligence says yes. #hashtags are definitely influencing elections. By looking at hashtag trends over time, we see that the fastest-growing hashtags tend to correlate with winning elections—both in the US as well as France. Here’s what we found:
Last year we designed a custom Netvibes dashboard to track and analyze the 2016 US Presidential election. For 2017 we are analyzing the French presidential race: you can see the live dashboard here and read the insights on our French Election blog.
Hashtags and French Elections
On Sunday, April 23, French voters went to the polls in a first-round vote to narrow down a field of 11 candidates to 2 finalists. Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen were the winners on Sunday. Ahead of the vote, Netvibes analyzed candidate hashtags to predict the outcome.
As a reminder, during both primaries, we found an interesting fact: the leader in hashtags won his elections, both times.
Here is the last poll on vote intentions:
and here are the hashtags for the past 30 days, as of Friday, April 21:
Based on this chart we might have expected Fillon to win, but he came in third instead. Thus, for the first round of the French elections, the rule of “hashtag leader wins” did not apply in this case. However, the role of hashtags remains very influential. Here’s how:
Featured in the table below are:
- The volume of candidates’ hashtags from April 20 (Thursday)
- The volume of hashtags from April 1st
- The position of the candidates per intentions (poll numbers)
- Actual voting results; and
- Candidates’ positions in terms of hashtag volume on 4/1 and 4/20
Macron won a position to Melenchon on Thursday.
When we compare the relative hashtag volume shares among these 6 candidates between 4/1 and 4/20, we find that:
Candidates who increased their hashtag shares before the first round also increased their results vs intentions.
Macron increased by 16% and got 4.37% better on results/poll. So did Fillon and NDA. Proportions are also respected.
In other words, an increase in hashtags correlates with an increase in votes. The full tweet analysis is in our CEO’s previous blog.
Hashtags and VP choices during US Elections
We found a similar pattern back in 2016 with the American election. While we were waiting to see which Vice-Presidential candidates would be chosen by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as their running mates, we found that the most-popularly mentioned VPs were:
- Marco Rubio
- Newt Gingrich
- Chris Christie
- Mike Pence
Although Rubio was #1 in mentions, he was not Trump’s pick. Of course, Mike Pence was ultimately chosen as Trump’s VP. When we look at growth trends rather than raw numbers, we can see that, although Pence was 4th in overall popularity, Pence was #1 in terms of growing social mentions at the time of the announcement.
This same pattern held with the Democratic VP candidates as well. Although Elizabeth Warren was top in overall mentions, the fastest-growing VP candidate was Tim Kaine, who went on to win the VP nod.
In conclusion, hashtags and other social media commentary can tell us a lot about what’s happening in a political race. The overall numbers are less important than understanding relative trends over time.
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