Twitter is key in mobilizing the electorate and winning over undecided voters cuadrito


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A study at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) shows for the first time the impact of Twitter on political conversation and its role in elections.



2015 is an election year in Spain. After the elections in Andalucía, now we are on the threshold of Municipal and Autonomous Elections; and General Elections are scheduled for the end of the year. This important political moment is reflected significantly on Twitter, where politics is a recurring subject and one of great interest to users of the platform. In fact, a recent study* shows that interest in politics by Twitter users is 23% higher than in the total number of internet users.

Given that Twitter is not unfamiliar to political debate, we were interested in finding out in more detail the actual volume of political conversation and the role Twitter plays in elections. In order to do this, the Universidad Carlos III carried out research**, commissioned by Twitter, which analyzes the role of Twitter on voter decision in the Andalusian Elections. Surprisingly, the results of the study led to observations that there is a sizeable connection between the volume of conversation on the platform and the final election results.

“Even though it is not a causative connection, and in no way can it be considered a prediction, it was interesting to find that there is a strong connection between the distribution of political conversation by parties, and the actual results of the elections after analyzing the accounts of 84,378 users who speak about politics”, asserted Esteban Moro and Alejandro Llorente of the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M).

For example, in the case of PSOE, there was a conversation volume on Twitter of 39.76%, obtaining a final result in the elections of 35.45%. In the following graph this relation between the different political parties is shown:


relación entre volumen de conversación y resultado electoral


The relation observed here is in consonance with the effect of the four principal conclusions that stand out in the study: all of the sociodemographic segments are represented on Twitter and participate in political conversation; all of the ideologies have a place on Twitter; what happens on television is reflected on Twitter and lastly, political debate does indeed take place on Twitter.

1 All of the socialdemographic segments participate in political conversation

The study reveals that all of the demographic segments, by age and gender, participate in political conversation on Twitter, with a broad predominance of the group with ages between 25 and 54, making up 67%. The youngest segment of population (between 18 and 25 years of age) who use Twitter to get information about different political options, know the candidates and their proposals is 25%, while the segment of over 55 years of age is 8%. In addition, it is interesting to note that all of the major political parties (PSOE, PP, IU, C’S, Podemos and UPyD) without exception are present in the conversations in all of the demographic groups.


Segmentos de la población


2. All ideologies have a place on Twitter

The ideological profile of users who participate in political conversation on Twitter is not too far from the data reflected in the CIS (Center for Sociological Investigation) for the total population. Thus, we observe how the profile of the majority corresponds to the political center (43%), while the left is 39% and the right 18%. In the end, all of the ideological profiles are active on Twitter, which creates opportunities for political parties to increase the relevance of their political message.


Todas las ideologías


3. What happens on TV is reflected on Twitter


The relation between Twitter and TV is a unique and special one. Twitter has become the number two screen par excellence and more and more spectators tweet while watching TV. The repercussions of this relation take place in a political environment. According to the study, candidates’ participation in political debates is strongly linked to the increase in the number of mentions and followers on Twitter. Thus, parties who participate in TV debates during the campaign spectacularly (x8) increased the average number of followers per hour during the broadcast. This means that those candidates who were able to attract conversation and interact with followers, during the television appearance as well as once it has finished, have the opportunity to amplify their message making it reach more people.

Lo que ocurre en la TV se refleja en Twitter


4. Political debate takes place on Twitter

Lastly, the study reveals that there is a very high correlation (95%) between voter indecision (according to CIS) and the number of Twitter users who follow the parties among whom the vote is being decided. The research shows that Twitter users who are indecisive about their vote choose to follow two parties in order to be informed and to help in their decision about whom to vote for. Once again, this acts as an open window for parties and politicians to attempt to convince voters and get votes, taking advantage of the real-time conversational and participative nature of the platform.

“Our users’ interest in political debate is revealing. On Twitter, undecided voters look for information in order to vote, which signifies a very clear opportunity for parties and candidates to openly approach citizens and explain their political proposals and try to get their vote”, says David Núñez, director of Media Partnerships of Twitter Spain.

“The academic profile of the Carlos III research team has been fundamental in demonstrating the relevance of political conversation on Twitter and the significant impact and influence that this conversation has both on and off the platform. It is the first time that there has been a report of results of such caliber based on a behavior study of so broad a sample of Twitter users” states Alfonso Calatrava, director of study and research for Twitter Spain.


El debate político ocurre en Twitter