The New Statesman’s rolling politics blog


Twitter v newspapers: the most talked about

Personalities, parties and topics.

When we repeat this exercise for the fourth and final full week of the campaign, there's little doubt that one name will be competing with Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg as the most written about and most tweeted.

Gillian Duffy -- tagged on Twitter, if a little unfairly, as #bigotedwoman -- is to the UK general election 2010 what Joe the Plumber was to the US presidential election of 2008.

But, here -- from the pre-Bigotgate era -- are the personalities, parties and topics that have dominated:



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Clegg's game-changer (© all media outlets) came in the middle of week two. As you can see, the number of mentions on Twitter and in newspapers grew accordingly: by week three, he was the subject of more coverage than either the PM or the leader of the opposition.

It's interesting also to note how the newspapers can't quite shake off their Blair obsession, whereas the Twitter chatter tends to reflect more quickly -- and more prominently -- those who pop up in the election, such as Ellie Gellard, the über-Tweeter who opened for Brown at the event where he launched the Labour manifesto.


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As above, the Lib Dem mentions rose when Nick Clegg's stock rose. It is also interesting that there is little between Labour and Tory mentions in the national newspapers during each week. On Twitter, however, Labour is mentioned consistently more often than the Conservative Party. But, as the disclaimer explains below, mentions shouldn't be confused with popularity.


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The newspapers have been in no doubt where the election will be decided. With the exception of talk about a possible (probable) hung parliament come 6 May, the economy has been the dominant topic of conversation -- "tax", "National Insurance", "cuts" and the "economy" itself all feature prominently.

"National Insurance" in week one was largely mentioned in connection to the Conservatives promise to scrap the government's intended NI rise. It all seems a very long time ago now.

In the Twittersphere, meanwhile, the discussion has been more varied -- an obsession with the leaders' debates and an issue close to the hearts of the digerati, the rushed-through Digital Economy Bill, are among the topics dominating debate.

Note: These numbers are based on how frequently parties and people were mentioned on Twitter and in the main national newspapers between 6 and 26 April. The Twitter figures are adjusted to make sure that only mentions relating to the general election are considered. Mentions can be positive, negative or neutral, and should not be confused with popularity. The NS Digital Dashboard is powered by Resolver Systems.

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