Predicting elections from social media : a three-country, three-method comparative study

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-273
Journal / PublicationAsian Journal of Communication
Issue number3
Online published24 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


This study introduces and evaluates the robustness of different volumetric, sentiment, and social network approaches to predict the elections in three Asian countries – Malaysia, India, and Pakistan from Twitter posts. We find that predictive power of social media performs well for India and Pakistan but is not effective for Malaysia. Overall, we find that it is useful to consider the recency of Twitter posts while using it to predict a real outcome, such as an election result. Sentiment information mined using machine learning models was the most accurate predictor of election outcomes. Social network information is stable despite sudden surges in political discussions, for e.g. around elections-related news events. Methods combining sentiment and volume information, or sentiment and social network information, are effective at predicting smaller vote shares, for e.g. vote shares in the case of independent candidates and regional parties. We conclude with a detailed discussion on the caveats of social media analysis for predicting real-world outcomes and recommendations for future work.

Research Area(s)

  • Computational methods, election prediction, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, sentiment analysis, social media