Ontario PCs capturing lion's share of election buzz on Twitter: poll
Christina Commisso, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, May 20, 2014 12:19PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 20, 2014 1:31PM EDT
The Ontario Progressive Conservatives are dominating the provincial election debate on Twitter, but the buzz appears to be mostly negative, according to a new poll.
An Ipsos Reid poll conducted for CTV News shows that the Twitter debate shifted significantly in week two of campaigning ahead of the June 12 Ontario election.
Twitter talk surrounding the PCs surged from 38 per cent to 62 per cent, according to the poll results released Tuesday.
Meanwhile, talk about the Liberals dropped from 39 per cent to 25 per cent and talk about the NDP dropped from 23 per cent to 12 per cent on Twitter between May 10 and May 16.
Polling numbers released last week show a bump in support for the Tim Hudak-led PCs, but that doesn't appear to be because of the increased Twitter buzz.
The survey found that 59 per cent of the discussion surrounding the PCs was negative – particularly regarding the party’s plans for jobs, education and Toronto transit – while 8 per cent was positive and 33 per cent was neutral.
On the positive side, Liberal Party corruption allegations and talk about the need for a new direction in Ontario shone a more favourable light on the Conservatives.
"What you see on Twitter is a younger audience, a higher education audience," Mike Colledge, Ipsos Reid's president of Canadian public affairs, told CP24 on Tuesday. "Those who are most active seem to have made up their minds and they seem to be leaning Liberal or NDP. What you see is those groups online criticizing Mr. Hudak and the Conservative agenda."
The Liberals fared better on Twitter, with comments being 35 per cent negative, 23 per cent positive and 42 per cent neutral.
The Liberal's budget and plans for a greater deficit received mostly negative commentary, as did the perception that party leader Kathleen Wynne was avoiding questions.
However, the Liberals’ job creation plan was seen as largely positive on Twitter.
The NDP, meanwhile, was the only party that received more positive mentions (31 per cent) than negative (28 per cent).
The limited discussion regarding the party, led by Andrea Horwath, was favourable when it came to the NDP's proposed changes to hydro and plan for increased child care supports.
Parties making better use of social media
Each party and their leaders have had a strong presence on social media during the campaign.
All of the parties have a presence on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, while Wynne and Horwath have also launched Instagram accounts.
The Progressive Conservatives have started a "campaign update" video in which they respond to the dominant issues of the week.
A significant amount of effort is being placed on social media during the campaign – with an estimated 37 per cent of Ontarians talking politics and policies online.
However, Colledge pointed out that there's about one-third of Ontario voters who are not paying attention to the online debate. He described these voters as older and mainly “conservative.”
Colledge said there’s another significant group that’s reading the online comments, but not engaging in the debate.
"They haven't made up their minds," Colledge said. "It looks like they're going online and shopping for information and what they're hearing now is criticism of the Conservatives rather than an appeal for the Liberals or the NDP."