A Comparative Study of Social Media Prediction Potential in the 2012 U.S. Republican Presidential Preelections

Fernanda Pimenta; Darko Obradovic; Andreas Dengel
In: Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Social Computing and its Applications (SCA 2013). Social Computing and its Applications (SCA), 3rd, September 30 - October 2, Karlsruhe, Germany, Pages 226-232, IEEE, 9/2013.


Social Media become more and more popular and are also heavily used for communication about many different events in society. There is a trend in research studies to use Social Media data for predictions, especially in the political domain, while it is unclear which Social Media platforms are suitable, and if so, to which degree. Most studies focus on a single platform only. Using the 2012 U.S. Republican preelections as a popular example for a political use-case, this work tries to compare different Social Media platforms under different aspects, in order to get a first idea about their suitabilities, advantages and weaknesses in comparison. We monitored the seven major candidates by collecting publicly available data from blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. We investigate the potential of this Social Media data to be used as a predictor of the real world performance of these candidates. Our relatively simple approach shows a good correlation to the 2012 primary results as well as to public opinion polls regarding this election process. We see significant differences between the platforms and single anomalies demonstrate how fragile these methods really are. In conclusion, it is apparent that a critical selection and interpretation in this specific field is very crucial.



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