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Loughborough academics use Twitter to predict Tory win in General Election

After analysing over a million tweets relating to the 2017 General Election academics at Loughborough University have predicted that it will be a Conservative win.

Experts from the University’s School of Business and Economics have used EMOTIVE for the analysis.  The computer program can analyse thousands of tweets a second and extract from them a direct expression of one of eight basic emotions*: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, shame and confusion.

They have previously used EMOTIVE to correctly predict the outcome of the 2015 General Election and the Trump victory in the US presidential elections in 2016.

Using EMOTIVE for the 2017 election they have tracked and analysed tweets that mentioned ‘Jeremy Corbyn and ‘Theresa May’ over the last two weeks.

In total there were 1,340,000 tweets in their dataset, with 110,000 having a strong emotional signal – 50,000 mentioning Corbyn and 60,000 May. Using their predictive model, overall Theresa May has marginally scored more favourably than Jeremy Corbyn, and throughout polling day her support has increased. Therefore the team have concluded that when the polls close the UK will have a Conservative government.

Professor Tom Jackson, one of the creators of EMOTIVE said: “Twitter provides us with a unique insight into how people are feeling about a particular issue or event – in this case the General Election. From our analysis we found there is a lot of disgust and fear towards May and a lot of sadness and surprise towards Corbyn, but overall there is more uncertainty towards Corbyn which indicates less votes for his party.”

Dr Suzanne Elayan, co- creator of EMOTIVE added: “This election is a hard one to predict as we don’t know how many of the younger generation have registered to vote amd will vote, which might skew the results.

“Clearly the true outcome won’t be known until the early hours of June 9th, but it is worth noting that EMOTIVE correctly predicted the outcome of the 2015 General Election and Trump’s presidential win in 2016.”

*These are based and extended from Ekman’s basic emotions

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 17/79

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Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines. It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world to study sports-related subjects in the 2017 QS World University Rankings and top in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey.

Loughborough was ranked 6th in the Guardian University League Table 2018 and 10th in The UK Complete University Guide 2018 and was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

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