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Mapping the EU Referendum on Twitter

With the British Eu Referendum vote looming, we decided to take a look at what the sentiment for the remain vs. the leave vote looks like on Twitter.

The map above takes all geotagged tweets that were sent in great Britain between April 15 and June 14 and filters them by pro-leave hashtags (#leave, #britainout, #voteleave, #betteroffout, #no2eu) and pro-remain ones (#hugabrit, #strongerin, #bremain, #pleasedontgouk, #voteremain, #yes2eu, #betteroffin, #ukineu). It was put together by myself and my Oxford Internet Institute colleague Graham McNeil

When doing this, we see that most of Great Britain’s Twitter users are far more likely to be using leave rather than remain-related terms. Indeed Scotland is the only part of the country with more remain tweets than leave ones.   

London and Yorkshire come close to parity, with only slightly more leave sentiment than remain sentiment. But the rest of the country is awash in leave tweets. Two parts of the country are even home to twice as many leave tweets as remain ones. 

Because we know exactly when each of these tweets was sent, we could easily see how particular events in the last few months sparked leave and remain activity in different parts of the country (however, this is work for another day).

There are some obvious weaknesses with this approach: we may be missing some key hashtags; use of hashtags isn’t necessarily a good predictor of sentiment (although with the tags we used, I’d argue that it isn’t necessarily a terrible one); and a single tweet could be counted in both camps if it included at least one remain and one leave hashtag.   

If this map does accurately predict the outcome of the forthcoming referendum, and Scotland is indeed the only part of the country favouring a remain vote, it is likely that we’ll be seeing another referendum soon.