Facebook reveals who is winning the general election on social media

Health, the economy and infrastructure dominate online chatter

GE16, Facebook, data, topics, popular, Enda Kenny, Joan Burton, parties, health, economy, Elizabeth Linder

Facebook Elections signs stand in the media area at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland before the first US Republican presidential debate | Image: John Minchillo / AP/Press Association Images

As we enter the first Friday of the general election campaign, who is winning? Not at the ballot box - but on social media.

Facebook has published new data which shows the scale of the conversation already taking place around the election.

Since November 1st 2015, there have been more than three million Facebook interactions (posts, comments and likes) relating to the general election by 600,000 people.

This translates to more than 31,000 interactions every day.

Facebook’s data also reveals that health has so far been the most discussed election-related issue, with over half (52%) of all interactions around election-related topics addressing this issue.

Health was followed by the economy (42%), infrastructure (36%), social welfare (24%) and crime and corruption (23%).

After these, the next most-discussed topics were housing (20%), education (14%), flooding (11%) and abortion (6%).

Most popular leaders

The data also shows that An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny is the most-discussed of the party leaders and prominent figures from other political groups, with more than two-thirds (68%) of all interactions in this category relating to him.

Tánaiste Joan Burton is the second most-discussed figure (39%), followed by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams (17%) and Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin (9%).

The Green Party's Eamon Ryan (1%) completes the top 5.

Fine Gael is the most discussed political party, accounting for over half (53%) of all interactions - followed by Sinn Féin (42%) and Labour (40%), with Fianna Fáil (36%) in fourth.

The Green Party (7%) is some distance back in fifth, while Renua (5%) and the Social Democrats (5%) are neck-and-neck, just ahead of the People Before Profit Alliance (4%) and the Anti Austerity Alliance (4%).

Elizabeth Linder, Facebook's politics and government specialist for the EMEA region, said: "Politics was the most discussed topic on Facebook in Ireland in 2015, and this data suggests that this year will be no different, with the General Election already proving to be a rich source of conversation on Facebook".

"With An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, having only just officially called the election, we would expect to see that level of conversation rise further as we approach polling day".

"We've seen previously in other countries that conversation on Facebook has increased voter turnout, and we hope that activity on Facebook from all parties will help raise awareness of the key issues among Irish voters in the build up to February 26th".