The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication have published a study by Nick Anstead and Ben O'Loughlin on semantic polling, the use of social media analysis to understand how public opinion forms and shifts. Their article, 'Social Media Analysis and Public Opinion: The 2010 UK General Election', uses interviews with journalists, traditional pollsters and the new breed of semantic polling companies to explain how semantic polling is done, how it is reported by journalists, and the role it played in 2010. The main argument of that this more granular, close to real-time analysis offers an alternative to the post-1936 Gallupian polling model that only aims to understand which party will win elections. Semantic polling allows us to understand the social dynamics of public opinion. In concluding, the authors take steps towards a new theory of public opinion.
The authors very much welcome feedback and comments.