Understanding the electorate’s reaction to the 2015 General Election debates in real time


The 2015 General Election Debates were to be unique, with representatives across all seven parties. The Daily Telegraph wanted to give readers instant access to what voters thought of the format and performance of party leaders.

What we did:

In collaboration with Demos and Qlik, Ipsos MORI provided real time analysis of the public reaction to the live televised debates. Relevant social media data was categorised live by researchers, using machine learning and natural language processing through the platform Method52.

A live dashboard of the results was available on the Daily Telegraph website – the most visited page that evening.

The analysis helped evaluate performances and identify the areas that received the most support from the public.

Key insight:

The results of this analysis uncovered three key features of the debates, and the campaigns:

  1. The rise of Nicola Sturgeon as a popular politician, even outside of Scotland.
  2. The electorate’s focus on personality over issues.
  3. David Cameron’s choice to avoid the debate had negative consequences for his perception amongst an unforgiving electorate.


By being able to analyse massive volumes of social media data in real time, using bespoke classifiers, political commentators in the media could understand reaction amongst the electorate, as the debates unfolded.


Learn more about social intelligence