The South African firm that accurately predicted Britain’s exit from the European Union and Donald Trump’s victory in the US by analysing what users were saying on social media now believes that Raila Odinga is poised for an upset victory in the Kenyan general election, currently underway.
“Similar to our Brexit and US elections research, we are predicting an outcome different to the polls: an Odinga victory,” BrandsEye said on Tuesday.
“We tracked 440 000 online mentions and processed these for sentiment toward or against the main candidates. Much like the US elections, this has been an election that has seen significant discourse online, fuelled by fake news and claims of propaganda. As such, the Kenyan public’s social conversation is an important source of political insight.”
In the week leading up to the election (1 to 6 August), BrandsEye analysed 443 000 mentions from 173 000 Kenyans discussing the election. According to the data, incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta is at risk of losing the presidency.
“The traditional polls have consistently put Kenyatta ahead of Odinga, but according to the opinions expressed by the public online, the majority want an Odinga victory. This is strikingly similar to what we saw with Brexit and the US elections,” said BrandsEye CEO JP Kloppers.
Social media opinions have traditionally been very difficult to analyse in aggregate due to the scale and complexity of the conversations, Kloppers said. The scale challenge can be solved using artificial intelligence, but this approach leads to inaccurate data, as machines struggle to understand the nuances of human conversation. BrandsEye solves this by complementing the AI with trained crowds: large teams of local language speakers who review and verify the data.
“In the case of the Kenyan election, our crowd was made up of Swahili speakers who understood the local dialects and social context,” Kloppers said.
The data shows that the 2017 Kenyan presidential race is a two-horse contest between Kenyatta and long-time political rival Odinga. These candidates have 53% and 43% of the total election conversation respectively, BrandsEye said.
While Kenyatta and Odinga show similar levels of support online, Kenyatta has almost double the amount of negativity compared to Odinga.
Odinga enjoys significantly less negative sentiment, but there is a concern that he is too old to lead the country. One of the central tenets of his campaign is that he will lead Kenyans to the promised land of Canaan, a phrase that has been picked up and echoed by his supporters online. In turn, this has been met with some derision, with detractors saying he does not have the track record to justify his claims.
Odinga appears to have mobilised online support in the last days leading up to the election. His conversation volume and share of online unique authors exceeds that of Kenyatta. “This, together with strong positive sentiment towards the candidate, suggests a surprise win,” BrandsEye said. — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media