It’s a student project, but Twipolitico has the potential to add some serious insight into the 2012 race.
The site tracks the real-time popularity of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on Twitter, to see who’s winning the social media sentiment race.
Twipolitico is a creation of three computer science students from the University of Cincinnati. As their final project, they’ve come up with a pretty cool way to measure popularity on Twitter.
The site shows the popularity of Obama and Romney on Twitter using complex measures of influence, including the content and sentiment of tweets about the candidates.
They specifically look at Twitter basics like the number of followers they each have and the number of accounts they follow. But the site goes deeper than that, exploring criteria like the number of retweets each of their tweets receives, how many of their tweets contain links and question marks, and the influence of those retweeting and interacting with their tweets.
Right now, for instance, Obama’s popularity is on the decline while Romney’s is on the rise. Obama was sitting at 50.27 percent positive “vibes” yesterday and is now down to 46.73 percent, while Romney rose from 56.24 percent yesterday to 56.66 percent today. Of course, these numbers change in real-time!
The students behind the project say that over the past two months, Obama’s popularity seems to have Romney’s beat by about 4 to 1.
However, they caution that this doesn’t necessarily mean Obama will get four times Romney’s votes – Twitter users typically skew younger than the average voter. Still, this might point to Obama’s popularity among youth on social media.
The creators of Twipolitico also note that social media popularity doesn’t necessarily mean political popularity. Obama’s announcement of his support for gay marriage, for instance, spiked his popularity on Twitter up past 75 percent, but pollsters found that it damaged him politically.
Still, the project is an interesting one, as online sentiment can influence offline political success, especially among youth.
(Debate image via Shutterstock)