Could Twitter Predict Election Results Better Than A Traditional Poll?

The Washington Post has created an app for election season that tracks Twitter and media mentions of all of the US candidates. And considering the real-time nature of Twitter, it could prove to be a better measure of public sentiment than traditional polls.

@MentionMachine is the Post’s new tool that tracks which candidate is on top in terms of Twitter.

You can access the real-time results of who’s leading the Twitter race at the Mention Machine website.

The app tracks the Twitter mentions of each candidate’s name and Twitter handle, as well as their regular media mentions, ranking them in order of popularity.

If you take a look at the recent results below, there is already a clear Twitter winner: Ron Paul. Although this may or may not speak to his chances at winning the Republican nomination, he is far and away the most popular candidate on Twitter. His nearly 350,000 mentions in the past week trumps second place Rick Santorum’s 130,000.

As Mashable reports, the app was built by the Washington Post team, who gathered data from over 10,000 media sources and Twitter’s API. There are plans to grow the Mention Machine from simply measuring the volume of tweets each candidate receives to incorporate positive and negative sentiment as well.

Twitter is a potential gold mine of information for stats-lovers and armchair pundits. It could offer insight into what the nation is thinking in real time, and provide an alternative to traditional polls that includes a greater number of respondents and more instant results.

(Top image: Lisa S. via Shutterstock)

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