Let's start at the top. Was this a "Covid-election"? In form maybe, but not in substance as chart here shows. FB user interaction with Covid news posts by media outlets way down by the time S'poreans got around to voting on July 10
Polling results clearly showed that there was "flight to safety" effect, as most had expected. On hindsight, any such sentiment among Singaporean voters might have been grounded by June
Of the GE-related charts I've made, this one interests me the most. Based on 154 FB posts btw June 23-July 8 that contained keywords of core campaign messages by PAP and WP.
Public interest in PAP message peaked too early, while that for WP peaked right before Polling Day 5/17
This "enthusiasm gap" is something that gets talked about a lot in US politics. Very interesting to see it play out like this in Singapore. The surge in FB interaction for the Opposition's posts on July 8 was largely driven by 3 heartfelt videos WP's Pritam Singh and LTK
Unclear whether the PAP or Opp parties paid any attention to these signals on FB. Qn of social media's impact on voter behaviour remains a controversial and little-understood one in Sg politics. But results from the "Sengkang Surprise" could shift the debate on this issue 7/17
There were clear warning signs for the PAP Sengkang team from the get-go. Chart here based on 325 FB posts btw June 28 and July 11 by 7 media outlets that mentioned the contest in Sengkang and the core members of the PAP and WP's teams in that ward. 8/17
Main caveat for above chart is that those who reacted to the FB posts aren't necessarily Sengkang voters, or even S'poreans at all. But the gap is so huge that there is no doubt that WP's Sengkang team garnered far greater mindshare and name recognition than their PAP rivals 9/17
Jamus Lim was the spark that lit the social media fuse for the WP Sengkang team. These two videos, by @MothershipSG, have been viewed at least 1.28 million times on FB:
Throughout the campaign period (June 30 to July 8), the WP Sengkang team averaged 32,744 FB interactions per day, while the PAP team only managed 4,205 FB interactions daily - a nearly eight-fold gap. There's a good reason why Dr Lim has earned the moniker "Famous Jamus"
11/ 17
A mood meter of FB reactions on Election Results Night further confirms the signals we've seen in Sengkang and with regards to the "enthusiasm gap" between the competing messages from the parties. 12/17
Chart above is based on 390 FB posts between 11pm on July 10 and 5am on July 11 from 7media outlets. The biggest spikes in FB-style celebration took place around the times when WP's victories in Hougang, Aljunied and Sengkang were announced and later confirmed.
Another way to look at the public reaction: Of the 10 Election Night FB posts that had the highest total interactions, nine were related to WP's victories:
FB analytics seen here is only a limited proxy for the broader public conversation. We should be skeptical of social media data. But #GE2020 showed that there are times when social media data do contain important signals that political parties ignore at their own peril.
Sg political parties have gotten better at using social media for content distribution. But they appear limited in ability to analyse impact their content is creating directly/indirectly. Major blindspot - & competitive disadvantage - as more digital natives get to vote
GE2024/25: Winning people over will require more than just right candidate/message. Increasingly, success will go to team that can also accurately interpret and react to the tsunami of online/social media data that their candidates/messages generate directly or indirectly 17/17
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