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Finding new ways to track voters’ moods

Mark Balnaves (The Conversation, 26.3.15) writes: ‘The recent Queensland election result surprised everyone – including the professional pollsters and punters.

‘What people post and share on social media – such as on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – can show political moods in real time and it provides qualitatively rich data.

‘In surveys and focus groups, people are asked questions about their views or behaviour. In social media networks, people’s views are on display as they are expressed. Those views, in turn, are often re-posted elsewhere and opinions are built up on particular issues.

‘As QUT’s Social Media Research team has covered in more detail in The Conversation, among the most popular topics on Twitter in the #nswvotes campaign have been #nswnotforsale and #csg (coal seam gas).

‘Similar themes dominated the Queensland election, particularly privatisation, which was often discussed with the hashtags #assetssales or #Not4Sale. Those topics’ popularity were driven partly by widespread public concern but also by a well-organised Queensland union-led Not4Sale campaign, working closely with the Labor Party.’

‘What people said and shared about “asset sales” in the Queensland election clearly indicated their voting intentions.’

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