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Voter sentiment in plain sight online

At least eight new independent MPs are set to enter parliament following the federal election, surprising everyone except an analyst who says online data predicted the result.

High-profile, mostly female independent candidates took on traditionally Liberal-held seats promising to hold the major parties to account, and won.

But Saturday’s result was hidden in plain sight online, data analyst and ‘election whisperer’ Elisa Choy says.

For more than 18 months, Ms Choy and her team at Maven Data used artificial intelligence to predict macro trends of the election.

Her data predicted independents would gain 13 seats, the Liberal-National coalition would suffer a net loss of 19 seats and Labor would form a minority or slim majority government with at least 76 seats.

“Data doesn’t lie,” Ms Choy told AAP.

As of Tuesday afternoon, projections by the Australian Electoral Commission show at least 10 independents will sit on the crossbench of the 47th parliament.

The coalition is expected to have 60 seats, a loss of 17 from the 2019 election. Labor is close to securing the 76 parliamentary seats it needs for majority.

The Maven Data team analysed data publicly available online including websites, blogs and social media to closely predict the election result.

By analysing millions of behavioural interactions online, Ms Choy was able to see a story forming in each individual seat.

“My reporting predictions are founded on the comprehensive view of sentiment … there was extremely negative sentiment towards Scott Morrison,” she said.

“It’s actually not about ‘teal independents’ but about the story of this election which was; what does democracy mean and what does it mean for communities to be represented in federal parliament.”

The seat of Fowler, traditionally seen as a safe Labor seat but lost to independent candidate Dai Le, was the case-study showcasing that story, Ms Choy said.

Online data showed people were disillusioned with the major parties and independents provided an alternative.

“It’s no coincidence all the independents are female,” Ms Choy said.

“Their key messages around integrity (in government), climate change, and gender equality resonated.”

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