Using Social Media as an Election Predictor

Ground Breaking Event for Social Media

Author: Jacky Charles

I recently conducted an online election poll. This survey was conducted by observing a historical event occurring on the island of Saint Lucia within one the major political parties, that being the United Workers Party (UWP). The poll was conducted in order to predict the outcome of the race for leadership within the UWP between Mr Allen Chastanet (former Minister of Tourism) and Mr Stephenson King (Former Prime Minister).

Saint Lucia has two (2) major political parties; the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) established in 1949 and the United Workers Party (UWP) established in 1964. In recent times a new political party which has emerged is the Lucian People Movement (LPM) established in 2010. The last general election was held on November 28, 2011 with the SLP successfully defeating the UWP winning eleven (11) of the seventeen (17) seats in the House of Parliament. Dr Kenny D Anthony, Political Leader of the SLP was sworn into office as the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia on November 30, 2011.

Following the general election in 2011, the members of the UWP had been discussing reorganization of the party after being defeated at the poll with their political leader at the time being Mr Stephenson King. There was numerous debate among members as to whether Mr Stephenson King should remain as the Political Leader of the opposition party (UWP). On July 28, 2013, the time had come to decide on the fate of Mr Stephenson King as the Political Leader at the Annual Convention of the UWP.

The Online election poll was conducted on July 27, 2013 in order to predict the outcome of the event. The poll utilized as its sample, the Facebook Group dubbed “Saint Lucians Aiming for Progress” (S.L.A.P.) which ideally represents the population of Saint Lucia. The survey instrument was designed in a manner that was expected to produce highly accurate results. The poll resulted in a 74% majority votes for Mr Allen Chastanet while Mr Stephenson King obtained 26% of the total votes cast. The actual votes cast for Mr Allen Chastanet as a percentage was 73%, while the actual votes cast for Mr Stephenson King was 27%. In both instances the difference between poll and actual results was 1%. The margin of error calculated for the poll was 0.1%, while the standard error of the difference was 0.004%, both of which were near 0%. The poll conducted therefore proved to be highly accurate in predicting the outcome of the event.

S.L.A.P. Facebook Page

I hope I have therefore created a breakthrough for social media, in this case Facebook, as well as political organizations and other interested parties, given the results of this experiment. This is a groundbreaking event for social media.

Using Social Media as an Election Predictor

The poll therefore indicates the following:

General Outcomes:

1. Social networking sites can be used to carry out surveys which provide reliable and accurate results.

2. Various entities, whether it be individuals or organizations (for example, political parties) can use social mediums as an inexpensive way to conduct surveys which can assist in answering research questions and used in decision making.

3. Social networking sites are capable of producing unbiased results.

4. Despite where an individual is in the world, this medium provides an opportunity to conduct surveys without physically being on the ground.

Specific Outcomes for Political Organizations/Governments:

1. A framework for further discussions, and as well, presenting solutions on issues and problems facing the country;

2. A proposal promoting this early warning system of electorate opinion;

3. Possibly being used as an inexpensive referendum on national issues;

4. Political organizations would use social media more effectively.

Given the accuracy of the results of this poll, it is my intention to confirm this proposition by carrying out further tests in the future in order to ensure that this medium remains an accurate and reliable source of conducting surveys, which includes online election polls.

Jacky Charles is a current PhD Candidate in the School of Economics at the University of Adelaide. She has a BSc Economics and Management from the University of the West Indies – Trinidad & Tobago, and an MSc Economics from the University of Texas. Jacky is a James Foundation Scholar and has over 13 years experience in the areas of finance, economic planning and research. Jacky can be reached via email or phone 08 8313 5540.

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