NMPi predicts hung UK Parliament using search data

Will Theresa May live to regret calling a snap general election?

Digital marketing agency NMPi is predicting a hung Parliament in the UK, after devising a formula that uses search data as an indicator of voting intentions.

The agency’s analysis suggests that, following the election on 8 June, the Conservatives will remain the party with most seats – 313 in total – but will lose their overall majority in a shock result likely to damage the political fortunes of PM Theresa May.

The NMPi research gives Labour Party 232 seats, the SNP 58 of the 59 seats they are contesting, 20 seats to the Lib Dems, 6 to UKIP and the remaining 21 seats to other parties.

Fred Maude, senior analyst at NMPi, said: “Last year, using Google Trends, and taking the US Presidential Election of 2016 as his example, Rahul Gupta published an article online claiming search activity proved that Trump was always going to win. We found this interesting, and with the UK election only a week away we thought we’d have a go! However, we found Gupta’s theory too simplistic, so we decided to a whole range of additional factors.”

Rather than running the analysis at the national level, NMPi assessed the search data over the last twelve months across seventy-eight different regions, while at the same time accounting for the population of that region, and how many seats that population is worth. Noting that this gives approach misleadingly gives equal weighting to search data across the entire twelve months, the agency then adjusted their findings to give increased importance to the more recent elements.

Alex Haynes, partnership manager at NMPi, who co-authored of the research, said: “The final piece of the jigsaw lay with addressing how we could incorporate the politically indecisive masses – around 20% of the voting population, according to YouGov.com. For this, we used a tool called Hitwise to understand the flow of online traffic to certain sites following the search term ‘who should I vote for?’ Depending upon which campaign’s content they then consumed, we were able to proportionally attribute a value to each party.

“We conducted the analysis purely as an internal project but the findings are based on genuinely decipherable and accessible data. It’s possible that this research might point the way forward for political polling in the future.”

NMPi’s full analysis can be viewed here.

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