Bloggers have a place in NZ elections

Just a couple of days left for the general election and everybody in New Zealand is talking politics! 15 parties and almost 500 candidates with the front running parties being National, Labour, and Green. At Pingar we have the tools to analyse text. And on this occasion, we just couldn’t resist!

We looked at the policies and politicians discussed in different sources and separated them in those discussed in articles and posts with positive and negative sentiment. We extracted and visualised the topics, policies and politicians associated with the two main candidates, John Key and David Cunliffe. Looking at the main parties’ websites, we extracted names of candidates from other parties mentioned in posts with positive and negative sentiment. Finally we took a look at the “mass surveillance” lexical landscape.

 

Policies & Sentiment

Currently, there is a lot of sensationalism in the media. But our votes should be based on policies that are important to us. We looked in mainstream media and political blog sites, as well as in the official sites of the three top parties and extracted the policies discussed in positive and negative sentiment articles.

Here are the top 10 policies* discussed in documents with positive sentiment per source of information. The ranking is based on the intensity of the sentiment and not how often these policies are being discussed.

  • Mainstream Media
  • Road Safety
  • Special Education
  • Climate Change
  • Broadcasting
  • Communities and Voluntary Sector
  • Energy
  • Human Rights
  • Arts, Culture and Heritage
  • Business
  • Youth (Social Welfare)
  • Blog sites
  • Infrastructure
  • Superannuation
  • Broadcasting
  • Transport
  • Local Government
  • WINZ and Benefits
  • Treaty of Waitangi
  • Secondary
  • Road Safety
  • Housing
  • National Party
  • Healthy Homes
  • Special Education
  • Energy
  • SOEs
  • Small Business
  • Veterans
  • Childcare
  • Employment law
  • Communities and Voluntary Sector
  • Arts, Culture and Heritage
  • Labour Party
  • Cannabis
  • Veterans
  • Puhoi-Wellsford
  • Senior Citizens
  • Fisheries
  • Sports and Recreation
  • Adult and Community Ed.
  • Human Rights
  • Communities and Voluntary Sector Resource Management Act
  • Green Party
  • Monetary Policy
  • Small Business
  • Road Safety
  • Student Support
  • Special Education
  • Biosecurity
  • Te Reo
  • Asset Sales
  • Animal Welfare
  • SOEs

Interestingly, ‘broadcasting’ is a policy often discussed with positive context in mainstream media and blog sites, but we cannot see it on the parties’ lists. Not a single policy can be found in all the lists. National’s positively discussed policies match the ones discussed in media more than the other two parties – the two lists have ‘energy’, ‘special education’, ‘communities and voluntary sector’, and ‘arts, culture and heritage’ in common.

Below are the top 10 policies* discussed in documents with negative sentiment per source of information. The ranking is based on the intensity of the sentiment and not how often these policies are being discussed.

  • Mainstream Media
  • Insurance
  • Mining
  • Defence
  • Veterans
  • Sports and Recreation
  • Corporate Welfare
  • WINZ and Benefits
  • Senior Citizens
  • Superannuation
  • Police
  • Blog Sites
  • Primary
  • Human Rights
  • Foreign Policy
  • Manufacturing
  • Broadcasting
  • Women
  • Arts, Culture and Heritage
  • Food
  • Police
  • Domestic Violence
  • National Party
  • Youth (Social Welfare)
  • Racing
  • Police
  • Gambling
  • Justice
  • Domestic Violence
  • Law & Order
  • Women
  • Defence
  • Monetary Policy
  • Labour Party
  • Foreign Policy
  • Disabilities
  • Dependency
  • Cannabis
  • Broadcasting
  • Human Rights
  • Forestry
  • Women
  • Biosecurity
  • Trade
  • Green Party
  • Charter Schools
  • Road Safety
  • Adult and Community Ed.
  • Superannuation
  • Women
  • Defence
  • Dependency
  • Police
  • Sexual orientation/Gender identity
  • New Brighton

There is not much overlap here either. ‘Police’ and ‘women’ are the most prominent policies appearing in four of the five lists.

* We considered all policies listed here: http://www.interest.co.nz/news/election-2014-policies

 

Politicians & Sentiment

We also looked at NZ politicians, associated in the news with positive and negative sentiment.

Across all sources, the candidates mentioned in articles of positive sentiment were: Bill Wallace, Mike Downard, Julian Crawford, Stephnie de Ruyter, Damian Light, Chris Leitch, Les King, Te Ururoa Flavell, Ben Uffindell, and Tariana Turia.

The candidates who were mentioned in articles of negative sentiment were: Maggie Barry, Garth McVicar, Craig Foss, Christopher Finlayson, Simon Bridges, Phil Goff, Andrew Little, Jonathan Coleman, Judith Collins, and Anne Tolley.

Note: We are not listing public opinion on these candidates. These candidates appear in articles associated with positive and negative sentiment respectively. Ben Uffindell is mentioned in many articles of positive sentiment since he was New Zealander of the year finalist 2013. On the other hand, Maggie Barry appears in many articles discussing her abuse by Rolf Harris – a source of negative sentiment.

 

Main ideas around John Key and David Cunliffe

We also looked at 50 main topics, policies, politicians and locations discussed in the majority of documents that mentioned the two candidates:

 

johnkey

 

 

cunliff

 

Looking closer at these graphs, one can find some interesting associations. We noticed that blog sites often when they mention David Cunliffe, they also mention topics like ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’. They also discuss ‘Nicky Hager’ and his book ‘Dirty Politics’ in articles mentioning David Cunliffe.

Note: The network graphs display relations between concepts. A link between two concepts indicates that the two concepts appear in the same document. The thickness of the line corresponds to the number of documents that the two concepts co-appear in. The distance between concepts does not represent any information.

 

Opponents of interest

We looked at names of candidates from the National, Labour, Green, Maori and Internet Mana parties mentioned in the official website and blog sites of the National, Labour and Green parties. We did not include candidates from the same party. Here we split these mentions into names we found in posts of positive and negative sentiment.

 

tagcloud1

 

 

We can see that the Labour and the Green party mention equally frequently (size of text) the same members of the National party. The exceptions seem to be: Nick Smith (Minister of Conservation) is mentioned more often on the Green’s party sites and Steven Joyce is mentioned often on the Labour’s party sites.

Note: These tag clouds display the names of candidates appearing in the most articles. The size of the text is proportionate to the number of articles they were mentioned in.

 

Mass Surveillance

Over the last couple of weeks, “mass surveillance” is a hot topic in the media. It was picked up as one of the prominent topics in our analysis. We looked into it further by filtering our sources for “mass surveillance”.

 

Mainstream media: “mass surveillance”

johnkey

 

Blog sites: “mass surveillance”

johnkey

johnkey

 

The blog sites mention mostly two politicians when they discuss “mass surveillance”: John Key and Hone Harawira. The mainstream media are discussing this topic more widely.

 

 

Our sources:

  • - The official websites and blog sites of the parties
  • - Some mainstream media sites: NZ Herald, stuff.co.nz, 3news.co.nz
  • - Some political blog sites: Kiwiblog, Whale Oil, The Daily Blog

 

And now we wait for the election results!

 

Anna Divoli
Head of R&D, Pingar