I’ve seen a bunch of stories lately that say that Romney gets more retweets than Obama does. Actually, that’s not quite true — they say that, on average, each of Romney’s tweets gets retweeted more often than each of Obama’s does.
This is usually said as a means of explaining that, while Romney may have far fewer followers than Obama does (498,759 to Obama’s 15,409,788) Romney’s are far more enthusiastic than Obama’s.
But I wondered if that was true. So I looked at all tweets each candidate’s official account sent (@MittRomney and @BarackObama) from 4/15 to 5/12 (four weeks), and determined the average retweet count for each:
Obama does get more retweets, on average, for each of his tweets. But given Obama’s 30-to-1 advantage in followers over Romney, it doesn’t seem like that much of an advantage!
But there is a reason why. Let’s start with the number of actual tweets each candidate’s account sent during that time period:
Obama sent slightly more than 15 times as many tweets as Romney did. So each Obama supporter had 15 times as many tweets to choose from to retweet.
When you take that all into consideration, the chart of total number of retweets is very telling:
As you can see, in total, the Obama followers are much more active at retweeting than Romney’s — by a factor of 20 to 1.
As a consolation, though, the average Romney follower is 50% more likely to retweet Romney than the average Obama follower is to retweet Obama:
But that’s pretty slim consolation in given Obama’s commanding lead in followers.
So if Team Romney wants to say their followers are more enthusiastic than Obama’s, that would be true. But it would be reasonable to suppose that if Romney grew his follower count to be in the same ballpark as Obama’s his average follower would be considerably less enthusiastic. (Why? Because the more enthusiastic followers are likely to be the ones who followed him through the primaries — at least that’s my guess).
But Team Obama can take heart in knowing that their presence on Twitter still dominates Romney’s.