Comparing Social Media Analysis and Electoral Results – Part 2 of 2

Mike Togle
May 19, 2016

For part 2 of the concluding study on the social media analytics on the Philippine Presidential Debates, we considered comparing the emojis to be a crucial part in understanding the reactions and behavior of people during the event.

Check out Part 1 of this study (Read: Comparing the Data Analysis for the Presidential Debates – Part 1) and see how the change in Share of Voice and the Polarity of Tweets may have contributed to the results of the elections.

Pilipinas Debates Reap Laughter on Twitter

Visualization on the comparison of Emojis Per Candidate

Recognizing that tweets aren’t just made up of words, we recorded per candidate, the top 3 most used emojis in the second and in the final stretch of #PiliPinasDebates2016 tweets.

The most reoccurring emoji in the 2016 Pilipinas Debate series went to the face with tears of joy, as it topped the list for the last two legs for all candidates except for one time. This could mean that Filipino netizens found so much humor in the words of the candidates that they had to insert the emoji to express their amusement through their tweets.

For the second leg of the debates held in Cebu, the fire emoji made it to the trending list for 4 out of 5 candidates. Unlike in the first format, the presidential candidates were given the opportunity to ask each other questions on key issues, resulting in a heated battle of words and emotions.

The clapping hands emoji replaced the fire emoji in the third and final installment of the debate series, as it also joined the list of top 3 most used emojis for all candidates but one. This debate followed a town hall format, and nearly all of the candidates were applauded for the way they answered the people’s questions and delivered their opening and closing speeches.

It was also important to note the emojis that were consistent and those that changed between the two debates we covered. The fisted hand sign appeared on Duterte’s list for both Cebu and Pangasinan leg, as this has been constantly used as a symbol of identification for his supporters in social media. For Roxas, perhaps we could say that he redeemed himself in the third debate, as the unamused face emoji from the second leg got replaced by the black heart suit (♥ – Twitter displays the symbol in red), a symbol of love.  And finally for Santiago, the loudly crying face emoji due to her absence in the second debate turned to the heavy black heart (❤︎ – Twitter displays this in pink) during the final leg, with tweets expressing solid support to the senator.

Election Results Consistent with Netizen Debate Feedback

As the transmission of the Philippine elections nears its conclusion, the presidential race appears to have been decided with Mayor Duterte leading by a large margin, followed by Sec. Roxas. Sen. Poe is poised to finish in third place, VP Binay in fourth, and Sen. Santiago last.

In general, the results of the presidential election came out in agreement with the netizens’ response during the 2016 Pilipinas Debates as shown in our analyses. However, Twitter only represents a fraction of the population who are active in social media, so discrepancies from actual results can be expected.

Sen. Poe was last in the Share of Voice but ended up 3rd in the actual results. On the other hand, VP Binay had the 2nd highest number of mentions in Twitter but finished 4th in the elections. The sentiments regarding these two candidates could have been a foretelling of the outcome of their bid for the presidency. While Sen. Poe had a small number of tweets mentioning her, she had the largest percentage of positive tweets. On the other hand, Vice-President Binay had the highest percentage of negative tweets.  On the average, Sen. Santiago ranked fourth in Twitter Share of Voice. Moreover, she got the highest number of sad tweets, a possible indicator of her disappointing finish.

Sec. Roxas finishing as a runner-up in the presidential elections matches with his presence in social media. Along with Mayor Duterte, he was the only other candidate that experienced minimal change across the 2 debates. He was generally found in the middle of the ranks in terms of share of voice and sentiments. His performance in the debates however was mired with the exceedingly large number of tweets expressing Anger and Disgust, more than his competitors did.

The three types of analysis could provide insights on how and why Mayor Duterte won the presidential race by a landslide. He was consistently visible in social media during the two debates, while garnering the 2nd highest percentage of positive tweets among candidates. Netizens showcased their love and happiness for Mayor Duterte in social media, placing him first in those two emotions in both debates.

While it is possible to analyze the sentiments and opinions of people in the social media, it remains to be seen whether social media does influence the collective consciousness of the voters as to who it is they deem worthy to vote for. The data at hand is insufficient to support this, as the demography and location fields are not fully reliable since it is the user’s prerogative to supply the said information. There is also no definite way of knowing if there are votes casted merely based on what has been seen from social media.

However, in this ever-evolving world, it is not a stretch to think that a candidate’s social media identity will shape and decide future election outcomes.