Certain Torontonians were quick to award the first #CityVote 2014 debate to Olivia Chow, but not surprisingly on Twitter, incumbent Rob Ford occupied most of the bandwidth.

Our public affairs team set up a Radian6 analysis to track the number of “Debate Day” tweets that mentioned the official Twitter handles for each of the five debate participants. A large majority of collected tweets (84.5 per cent in total) were attributed to Ford’s @TOMayorFord handle with @oliviachow and @johntoryTO coming in a distant second and third, respectively.

While Twitter conversations are swayed heavily towards Ford at this time, election day is still months away and the campaign has a long way to go. Given the personalities of some of the candidates, surprising things will occur to change the complexity of the race.

As our Ontario public affairs lead Geoff Owen points out, “The debate itself and the conversations on Twitter show that Rob Ford is, for the time being, the central issue in this campaign. His record frustrates a large number of people but it also galvanizes a large number of people. Early on, Olivia Chow appears to be the strongest anti-Ford candidate in the race.”

Our analysis also included a breakdown of the number of “Debate Day” tweets that mentioned either the #TOpoli or #CityVote hashtag and one of a number of pre-selected election buzzwords.

“The issues of transit and taxes dominated the debate and on Twitter, this isn’t surprising that they got the most play,” says Owen. “It highlights the challenge the candidates face in appealing to the apparent contradictions in the public’s desire for both more transit and lower taxes. In the early days, Chow and Ford have relatively clear positions on transit. This puts pressure on the other candidates to provide clear ideas of their own.”

Click on the graphic below to see our full Twitter analysis of #CityVote election issues.