Political popularity contest

The last 30 days.

I came across a fascinating website recently where they have attempted to measure the ups and downs of the popularity of individual New Zealand political leaders’ by monitoring words on Social media. While this is an interesting exercise, I recommend extreme caution as Social media does not, and never has, represented the average voter or a broad spectrum of political views. Twitter, for example, tends to attract people who are highly engaged in politics and the vast majority of political users come from the left side of the political spectrum.

Because that is the case, the results are only of interest to me if they show a decline in the popularity of a left-wing political leader since it is more likely in that circumstance that it might have some relevance to the real world.

So how does it work exactly? quote.

Party Leader Popularity

We’re tracking the popularity of New Zealand’s key political figures through the power of sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis is the use of natural language processing techniques to identify and quantify the opinions expressed in a given piece of text. It analyses the words used, and their connotations in context, to give an idea of whether or not the text is positive, negative or neutral.

The percentages for each leader and the values shown on the graph represent the mean average sentiment measured during that particular day, week or month. These can range from +50, which indicates a very positive average sentiment, to -50, which indicates a very negative average sentiment.

An average sentiment near zero would suggest either an even number of positive and negative responses, or that those engaging with the politician are doing so neutrally, with little emotion evident.

Politikiwi utilises Microsoft Azure’s sentiment analysis API to analyse tweets, which has an approximate accuracy of 72%. This is why the size of each point on the graph can vary, as we are more confident of sentiment values which have been calculated from a large number of tweets. The larger the point, the more accurate the value. Days with less than three tweets are not shown.

end of quote.


The last 7 days on social media have not been good for Green party co-leader James Shaw but they have been very good indeed for the prime minister. No doubt the announcement of her engagement created a lot of text containing positive sentiments for Politi Kiwi to track.

The last 7 days.