Cameron and Miliband vie for social media supremacy in #BattleForNumber10 with sentiment too close to call

By John Glenday | Reporter

March 27, 2015 | 3 min read

David Cameron and Ed Miliband have subjected themselves to a grilling by Jeremy Paxman in front of a prime time audience as both leaders attempt to break the stalemate in their parties fortunes ahead of the general election.

Although the politicians didn’t go head-to-head directly the on air clash, screened live by both Sky News and Channel 4, proved to be a fertile discussion point on Twitter, grabbing a 94.7 per cent share of 301,142 TV related tweets according to Kantar.

Over the course of the evening Cameron garnered more mentions than his opposite number but the Labour party secured greater prominence than the Conservatives and it was Milliband who boasted the most tweeted about incident of the occasion at the end of his Paxman one on one, when the veteran presenter asked: “Are you OK, Ed?’ To which he replied, ‘Yeah! Are you?”

Despite this a Guardian/ICM poll suggested the blue corner edged ahead slightly overall:

To the contrary, data from TheySay, sentiment analysis software from the University of Oxford, suggested that Miliband came out on top.

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Miliband was tweeted about 284,896 times during the debate, out-reaching Cameron's 210,864 tweets.

Miliband came out slightly when social media sentiment was measured, 52 per cent positive against Cameron's 47 per cent.

Dr Karo Moilanen, co-founder of TheySay, said: "Most notably, both candidates generated a gigantic volume of negative sentiment overall. In general, Miliband's signals were more volatile than those for Cameron. Miliband's sentiment profile is more jagged - a sign of more extreme polarisation.

"Given that doubt, anger, agitation, and fear all increased towards the end around Miliband, his passionate plea was highly highly emotional. Speculation increased towards the end around both candidates."

Moilanen concluded: "Miliband's impressive performance generated more traffic than Cameron's first round - in a typical situation, the PM dominates in social media volume; he also created many more humorous comments in social media."

Two more televised debates are planned ahead of 7 May.

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