The TV debate: What did Twitterers think and feel?
So we've seen a new record for a political event: last night's debate was the most-tweeted ever. Over 180,000 tweets in 90 minutes by more than 38,000 Twitterers.
"So what?" I hear you say. "Nearly 10 million people watched it on television; those numbers are pretty insignificant." Perhaps, although there may well have been far more people watching Twitter passively than the numbers who actually tweeted.
An analysis of what was being said on Twitter as the debate unfolded comes up with some interesting conclusions. We asked a firm called Lexalytics to put its "sentiment-analysis" machine to work on the debate last night. In the end, we decided to narrow the results down to what was said on Twitter - it produced far more data than any other source. Here's the chart:
What you're seeing is a chart of the ratio of positive to negative language used about each leader over a series of five-minute periods.
The first thing you notice is that right at the start, at 2040, Gordon Brown dips sharply into negative territory, perhaps during his answer on immigration.
His rating recovers and leaps into positive territory - at about the time that he launched a jokey attack on David Cameron over airbrushed posters.
Mr Cameron falls into negative territory at 2110 somewhere between the constitutional reform and education questions, where all three take a dip. But from then on, Nick Clegg moves into positive territory and stays there for the rest of the debate.
So, just like the other measures of opinion, our Twitter sentiment tracker appears to show that Nick Clegg had the best night as part of its almost-live representation of public reactions. Now, we must be cautious about reading too much into this experiment; the twitterverse is by no means certain to be representative of the electorate as a whole. But this could be a useful addition to the toolbox of any political analyst.