There were few surprises during the unveiling of the 2014 Ontario budget yesterday at Queen’s Park. As our public affairs team pointed out in their post-budget analysis, the Liberals tipped their hands on several key budgets issues in recent weeks and the end result was a budget that was more about posturing for a potential election than revealing major economic surprises.
The conversations on Twitter very much mirrored those in the press room. In a social media analysis we conducted using Radian6 software, taxes were the most mentioned budget buzzword in a sample of May 1st tweets that featured the #ONpoli hashtag. In fact, taxes alone had more tweets than the other five selection buzzwords combined. Transit and education also factored heavily into May 1 #ONpoli discussions while pensions saw a scant 19 tweets for the day within the pool. This was somewhat surprising considering the government’s Ontario Retirement Pension Plan was the most prominent initiative in the budget.
“Taxes is shaping up to be one of the key issues in this election,” says Geoff Owen, our Ontario public affairs practice lead. “Are higher taxes necessary to fund vital public services? Or do they dampen Ontario’s economic prospects? This conversation is likely to be a lively one over the next several weeks in Ontario.”
In terms of discussions involving the three party leaders and their official Twitter handles, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne saw more than 2,500 tweets directed at her handle, compared with more than 1,800 for NDP leader Andrea Horwath and just under 600 for PC leader Tim Hudak.
The most interesting part of this analysis is that Horwath’s Twitter handle actual saw more “action” than Premier Wynne’s during the hours between 3:00-5:00pm. As budget details were revealed, the online discussion heated up with many pundits sharing their views on whether budget specifics would ultimately be enough to cause Horwath and the NDPs to trigger an election (which they ultimately did).
Owen comments, “Andrea Horwath caused a lot of conversation on Twitter because she didn’t say anything on Budget day about the Budget. Of course, her response on Friday – that the NDP will not support the Budget – will drive even more traffic.”