Traditional commentary on the first provincial debate focused on what experts saw, who sounded good, who projected well and who was quick on their feet.
But for the majority of Ontarians – who didn’t and likely won’t ever watch a debate – who won is a matter of what clips showed up in their friends’ Facebook feeds.
At Hill+Knowlton Strategies (H+K) we go beyond the commentary and use data to tell the story behind the spin. Throughout the election we will use a combination of research and digital listening analysis to tell the story a lot of people are missing. Apart from the punditry. Apart from the headlines. What is the data telling us?
Prior to the first provincial debate we set up social listening tools to map, measure and quantify social conversations.
Here are our top 5 takeaways from the social data.
The NDP aren’t as angry
The majority of the debate was a battle between Wynne and Ford. Conversations around the NDP and Horwath had a higher positive sentiment than either Wynne or Ford and their respective parties. The NDP had a 11% positive sentiment share, compared to the 5% positive conversation of the Liberals and the Conservative.
Ford had the largest share of voice
While pundits were split between Ford and Horwath as winners, the data shows Ford easily won the debate in terms of share of voice. His brand and his content dominated social conversations. In particular, we saw #fordnation outperforming the other party’s share of voice. The Ford base remains strong, loud and activated.
Ford and Wynne are fighting for same demographics
While the NDP demographics show skewing, we see the same demographics talking about Wynne and Ford. This isn’t surprising given that Liberals and Conservatives are battling for ridings and matching each other advertisement for advertisement in the biggest population areas.
Progressive Conservatives are focused on Kathleen Wynne
Analysis of conversations from PC and Doug Ford accounts show one key theme: Kathleen Wynne. Her name and her party dominate mentions and share of voice. The communications strategy is clear: the debate is a referendum on Wynne’s government. This trend was not seen in any other party’s base.
The NDP have “room to grow”
With the Liberals defaulting to attacking the PCs and the PCs making this election a referendum on Kathleen Wynne, the NDP can frame their own conversation. Conversations from their base and about their party are focused on their priorities which marks a contrast to the other two parties.