• Linguistic researchers have gotten very good at teaching computers to recognize a person's political bent when he or she takes to Twitter to spout off about politics. Thanks to their algorithms, we can measure how positive or negative people are about candidates and topics on the microblogging platform without tasking some poor junior staffer with reading 100,000 tweets and categorizing them as mean or nice.

    This method of "sentiment analysis" doesn't work for search engine queries, however, since people don't tend to show their cards when looking for information online—they just type in a few keywords about a subject without much clue as to what their opinion about it may be. So to game out the politics of popular search terms, Yahoo! Labs and the Digital Methods Initiative at the University of Amsterdam have developed a tool, Political Search Trends, that analyzes queries by studying whether people who search for a topic tend to click through to more liberal or conservative websites that turn up in the results.

    Last week, for example, popular political search terms included "game change film," HBO's biopic about the McCain-Palin campaign, and "obama harvard tapes," a video of the president in 1991 that conservative agitator Andrew Breitbart had vowed to release before his untimely death March 1. Neither term, on its surface, suggests what people think about the subject. But our tool finds that many more people searching for the film, which was not exactly flattering to Sarah Palin, ended up on liberal-leaning sites. Likewise, people searching for the Harvard tapes, which were hyped as showing a young Obama as far more radical than he is now portrayed, directed many more people to conservative-leaning sites.

    Read More »from Political Search Trends: The partisanship behind popular Web queries
  • Like the rest of the nation, we're temporarily suspending our interest in politics to devote every ounce of our mental energy to the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Fortunately, the same online betting sites we use to predict presidential elections can give us a lot of information about March Madness.

    Kentucky is the top ranked NCAA basketball team in the country and the clear favorite to win the tournament at 26.7 percent odds. Those are tremendous odds, given that the team has to win six straight games against the best teams in the country (if you county an opening round game against 16-seed Western Kentucky).

    The presence of Kentucky makes the South region the most dangerous for other top ranked teams: No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Baylor, and No. 4 Indiana all have the lowest likelihood of winning the title compared with the other teams of similar rankings.

    The East is the most wide-open region due to the ineligibility of top ranked Syracuse's start center, Fab Melo. Second ranked Ohio State

    Read More »from NCAA Predictions: Kentucky is favorite to win, East is wide open
  • Twitter softens (slightly) on Santorum after Alabama and Mississippi wins

    As voters warm to Santorum, the often-hostile ranks of Twitter also appear to be softening on the insurgent Republican candidate. A week ago, on Super Tuesday night, we saw a manifestly negative reaction to his speech, as measured by our in-house algorithms that measure sentiment in tweets. Santorum's victory speech last night registered far more mixed reactions, including clear positive spikes. Top keywords associated with the candidate's name throughout the evening included won, double, south, sweeps, reshape, crucial, and grabs.

    As one might expect, Santorum's victory in Mississippi, where early indications suggested Romney would win, produced the biggest spike in chatter of the night.

    Tweet volume

    Mitt Romney, who did not make a speech,  saw a volume spike on Twitter at the beginning of the evening, after CNN showed aired pre-recorded interview with him and before the outcome of either primary was clear. The volume for Romney's name then remained relatively low through the rest of the evening.  At various times during the coverage, our sentiment index registered negative sentiment spikes as the results trickled in and the night got progressively worse for the former governor. Corresponding top hashtags for the evening included  #cheesygrits, #gomitt,  #jefffoxworthy, #moprimary. Newt Gingrich's spokesperson, R.C. Hommond, even piled on:

    @rchammond : Mitt Romney's like the ChevyVolt. Somebody thought it was a good idea and then nobody bought the car.

    Interestingly, Rick Santorum's good night on Twitter saw him compete not with Mitt Romney, but with the ultimate target of the GOP primary race: the incumbent. When former press secretary Robert Gibbs appeared on CNN to comment on the night's results, declaring that "this is shaping  up to be a remarkable night for Rick Santorum," Obama's name registered the second highest volume spike of the night.

    Read More »from Twitter softens (slightly) on Santorum after Alabama and Mississippi wins


(177 Stories)

About The Signal

The Signal is the Yahoo! News predictions blog featuring real-time forecasts and sentiment on politics, economics, and more. MEET THE TEAM: David Pennock, David Rothschild



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