Any other business

The outcome of the general election if it was left up to Twitter and Facebook to decide

5 min read

28 April 2015

With the upcoming general election set to be the closest on record, DigiHub and 72 Point thought it would be fun to predict the outcome based on the amount of “likes” and shares of each political party on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter.

Earlier this year, Policy Exchange’s “Technology Manifesto” suggested that the UK had an online retail trade surplus of $1bn – more than Germany and the US combined. But Brits believed that politicians weren’t tech-savvy enough to further boost the economy. The direct result may have been less followers on social media, suggesting that political campaigns may not have reached their “shared” potential.

So have party leaders squared up to social media and started tweeting away?

The question isn’t as odd as it first seems. Research published by OFCOM in October 2014 revealed that television is becoming less of a priority for many people, especially in 18-24 year-olds

With only 44 per cent of young people having voted in the last general election, parties are looking to pull out all the stops in order to gain those extra votes. This has led to many hailing 2015 as the first general election dominated by social media.

Using the same technique used to find the results of the “Technology Manifesto”, DigiHub have made it their mission to answer one simple question: What would the outcome of the general election be if it was left up to Twitter and Facebook to decide?

Read more about the 2015 general election:

By taking UK political parties into consideration and equating their percentage share of “likes” from social platforms Facebook and Twitter into parliamentary seats, the outcome of the general election would be a right-wing coalition on Facebook and a left-wing coalition on Twitter.

John Sewell, spokesman for 72Point, said: “Although the election predictions are purely speculative, they do uncover some interesting trends in regards to social media. The results not only show that the general public is divided on this year’s election outcome, but that Facebook has become a lynchpin for right wing parties, whereas Twitter is more of a left-wing social media channel.”

With 169 seats and 163 seats respectively on Facebook, the Conservatives and UKIP would enter a hung parliament. Labour would still hold significant weight, however, with 104 seats. Strangely enough, the Scottish National Party (SNP) would hold 84 seats despite there being only 59 seats “north of the border”, as DigiHub puts it.

According to the research, the Liberal Democrats would lose four of their current seats and the Green Party would “shoot up in popularity” taking 78 seats, 77 more than their current “share fulfilling prophecies” that the “Green Surge” could “propel Natalie Bennett’s party into an authoritative position”.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett: This last government has talked talk but not walked walk

DigiHub suggested that such a “broad dissemination of seats” would leave David Cameron and “likely Nigel Farage” with a bit of a headache. With left-wing parties accounting for 266 seats and the Liberal Democrats hanging on to 52 of theirs we could be left with a “US Congress model” whereby key decisions “get held up in parliament”.

This headache would only be exacerbated if the general election was decided by Twitter followers. 

The research found a three party coalition would be the most likely outcome if “follows” were seats, with the Labour party joining forces with the Green Party and SNP.

Although Labour would hold 176 seats, the Green Party would have 111 seats. This wouldn’t be enough to secure a majority in parliament. 

“The SNP’s 71 seats would therefore most likely be called upon, although right-wing parties would have 215 seats and the Liberal Democrats would have 77 seats,” DigiHub said.

It seems the leadership contest is much easier to decide. Cameron dwarfs the competition on Twitter with 966k followers. In comparison, the next closest party leader is Ed Miliband with 424k.

Boris Johnson, who will be in the running for a seat in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, has a massive 1.21m followers, more than five times that of Nick Clegg’s! 

With rumours that Johnson is eyeing the title of PM when Cameron steps down, his social media reputation is certainly doing no harm.