Since UK Prime Minister Theresa May surprised the nation by calling a snap election back in April, Twitter’s data team have been closely tracking how the campaign conversation and debate was shaping up. Analysis of up to 90 different topics, personalities and trends across more than 48 million election Tweets made it clear early on that Twitter’s audience really saw this as a two-horse race - with May and Corbyn broadly even in terms conversation level (around 40-45% each) for much of the campaign. However, by polling day we saw that gap rise dramatically with Corbyn on 68%, compared to just 19.5% for Theresa May.
With a Tweets-per-minute spike of 12,633 greeting the exit poll at 22.02, the trends on the night soon proved it’s the personalities, human stories and fast-changing facts which are at the core of Twitter. Almost every trending term from 10pm until 7am was either the name of a politician involved in a development, or a constituency where a surprising result was happening.
Initially Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May - of course - were the sole focus of conversation. Then around midnight Boris Johnson was trending - as initial reports swirled from reporters that he might already be thinking about a leadership challenge. A little later Amber Rudd’s seemingly never-ending recount and eventual victory by a handful of votes got people talking. She became the most discussed politician after May and Corbyn.
Nigel Farage’s pronouncements on Twitter kept him on the radar - despite the fact he wasn’t standing. His warm praise for Jeremy Corbyn and fury at Theresa May for leaving the path open for a softer Brexit was widely shared.
Another of the night’s top Tweets was a genre crossover from Gary Lineker who described Theresa May’s result as ‘own goal of the season’. Contrastingly, one of the most shared Tweets on polling day was a touching tribute to murdered MP Jo Cox, a reminder about the value of democracy.
As the result was crystallizing, Twitter reminded the Prime Minister that its users never forget. Her Tweet from the 20th May, in which she warned that losing just 6 seats would spell disaster, became one of the most retweeted of the night
65% of people who use Twitter are under 35 years old. In fact 35% haven’t reached their mid-twenties. A young, engaged and powerful group of Britons are coming to Twitter to find out What’s Happening - and if there is really going to be another election in a few months time then all political parties would be foolish to ignore them.
In the words of Jon Snow, who finally secured an interview with a reluctant Prime Minister during the campaign after Tweeting her directly - Twitter works!