The weekend was quiet for both camps, with mentions of Mitt Romney drifting sleepily down below 3,000 per day while President Obama’s mentions also quieted down but remained over 11,000 per day — about 3.5 times higher than Romney’s.
I want to know who publishes the “Word a day” calendar on Michele Bachmann’s desk, because today’s word is obviously “Tar Baby”! Perhaps she is confusing the term with “Red Herring”?
While her “Tar Baby” had the benefit of getting her back in the public eye, it inadvertently demonstrated one of the less offensive meanings of the term by sticking her with the more racist meaning.
And the racist meaning is getting her a lot of attention on Twitter:
Her office denies that she meant it in an offensive way, just saying that Obama “has gotten himself into a sticky situation.” Just like Michele did…
There’s twin stories that are being pushed through the media lately. The first is that Connie Mack isn’t gaining traction in his bid to be the GOP nominee, and the second is that Florida state CFO Jeff Atwater is going to jump in the race because of that. But as I’ve previously discussed, Connie Mack isn’t fading in twitter mentions, indicating stronger grass roots support.
The primary indicator we use to measure Twitter support is mentions: how many twitter users tweet (or re-tweet) something that includes the person-in-question’s name, hashtag, or user id.
So how has Twitter reacted since news of Atwater’s possible run surfaced?
A pretty good spike on Monday — when the story broke — but it started to fall off on Tuesday. Connie Mack IV gets around 60 mentions a day, so Atwater is in the running on Twitter as long as he can keep the activity up.
And he does seem to be tweeting more frequently:
To run for Senate, though he would need to up his level of Twitter activity quite a bit; at the moment, he’s in the doldrums…
I’ll put him in with the other three candidates in my periodic reviews unless/until he drops out of the race so we can see how he’s tracking on Twitter in the future.
At a closed door fundraising meeting Sunday (4/14), Mitt Romney is reported to have said:
“We are behind when it comes to commentators on TV. They tend to be liberal. Where we are ahead or even is on twitter and on the Internet.”
Is he? That’s an interesting question for several reasons. First, there’s no single definition of ahead or behind. Second, because any real metric is a bit hard to calculate. Third, Twitter is a fairly volatile place, and so picking the timeframe might influence things one way or another.
Let’s work through these issues and look at what the statistics show us. Maybe we’ll come to an answer — or maybe we’ll decide it’s too hard to answer a simple question!
First: What is the right definition of ahead?
One definition of “ahead” is a sort of gestalt kind of thing: it does seems like Mitt just had a good twitter week. That’s not an unreasonable way of looking at things, but it’s also not really something you can prove. I’m sure Mitt is happy about the recent conflict between Ann Romney and Hilary Rosen. Mrs. Romney got a lot of press and a lot of tweets that may have turned the tide for a while in the war on women debate. However, taking advantage of your opponent’s gaffs is not really a strategy (unless your opponent is predictably gaff-prone). A few weeks from now, this will have faded away and be replaced by some other outrage. We might assume a pro-Romney shift in Twitter, but it could fade.
Another definition of “ahead” might be # of followers. I’ve seen this mentioned a few times by others. The problem is it doesn’t really delve into why people are following you. They may love you and hang on every word. They may hate you and are looking for you to slip up so they can pounce on it. I think the combativeness of political discourse means that # of followers is a very tough metric to draw conclusions from; you’re just not going to know a lot about why people are following you. If Mitt was Tide Soap, followers would probably be a great metric.
You might say you’re ahead based upon the number of tweets you make. This might be a great metric of how active your social media team is, but is probably not a great metric of how effective you are. It’s an input to the process, not an output. Again, this is at best a tie breaker.
One definition of “ahead” I think is meaningful is how often you get mentioned in tweets. It’s not perfect, because if you say or do something that animates your opposition, you’re going to trigger a bunch of tweets even though they are not supporters. But, over time, the number of mentions is at least a valid indicator of mindshare.
Another useful definition of “ahead” is how often you get retweeted. Unfortunately, this is not a great standalone metric — if you are not a heavy tweeter or your tweets are not particularly retweetable, you won’t score well even if you are the darling of the media.
A combination of the last two is useful, though, to see how much of the twitter conversation you dominate. And it’s what we can go on — it’s hard to draw any other metrics out of Twitter.
So let’s start the scoring!
We’re looking at the accounts @MittRomney, which is the official campaign account for Mitt Romney, and @BarackObama, which is the official campaign account for Barack Obama. We’re also looking at tweets taged with #Mitt2012 or #Obama2012
- Mitt Romney: 442,029
- Barack Obama: 14,275,493
I did say that followers are not a great metric, but you’d have to admit that Obama is way ahead here. You might give Obama an advantage since he joined Twitter in March 2007 and Mitt Romney joined June 2009. But that’s not much of a difference, although I suspect that Romney only really got active once he announced his campaign which didn’t help. Still, if you were going by followers, Romney is way behind.
How about by the # of tweets since the start of the year?
- Mitt Romney: 180
- Barack Obama: 1063
Barack Obama sends out about 6 times as many tweets as Mitt Romney does. While I did say that the # of tweets is not an indicator, in itself, of your presence on Twitter, the comparatively fewer tweets from Romney probably trickles down into the statistics which follow:
In terms of mentions — the number of tweets by people that include either @barackobama or #obama2012 for Obama or @mittromney or @mitt2012 for Romney:
- Mitt Romney: 60,502
- Barack Obama: 138,881
The President is ahead by a bit over 2 to 1 here. That’s actually an impressive showing by Romney, given his light tweeting. But it is still a 2+ to 1 advantages to the President.
In terms of retweets, where somebody has been so moved by what the candidate says that they repeat it to their followers:
- Mitt Romney 10,006
- Barack Obama: 34,288
Here the President is 3+ to 1 over Romney.
Even Klout has the President with a higher score than Romney.
Net net (wow, you read this far?):
Romney is way behind on Twitter, his one good week with the Ann vs. Hilary battle notwithstanding. If he thinks that, he needs to have a metrics based discussion with his social media team. Any viable metric you come up with is going to show him at best 2 to 1 behind and probably far worse.
For the count of # of tweets sent by the candidate, I looked at their tweets between 1/1/2012 and 4/14/2012, inclusive. For the other metrics, I looked at all tweets sent between 2012-04-10 01:00:29 and 2012-04-16 17:00:35 EDT, a few hours short of a full week’s worth.
The Miami Herald has an article today saying that Connie Mack IV’s campaign is fizzling out. As evidence of this, they quote a few party insiders (many unnamed) and look at some very early fundraising reports.
When I look at what’s happening on Twitter, though, I call bullshit.
Let’s start with how much each of the candidates has tweeted lately:
What we see is that McCalister is still not very active (we last looked at the three of them about three weeks ago), but LeMieux and Mack are fairly comparable in their activity.
So, how does the Twitterverse respond to them?
Well, maybe if Connie Mack’s wife Mary was running for Senate in Florida we could call it a lackluster campaign, since her mentions are between LeMieux’s and McCalister’s. But since it’s the Mr. and not the Mrs. who’s running, we can see that on Twitter the Mack Attack is dominating the rest of them.
Maybe the Miami Herald should escape the Brie and Chablis set and find out what’s really happening. Because compared to his two opponents, Connie Mack is on fire.
Methodology & Notes:
Some important things to remember:
- I retrieved all tweets sent by the three candidates since 1/1/2012 to get a general level of their twitter activity.
- I retrieved all tweets sent by others in the past week that mentioned @ConnieMackIV, @RepConnieMack, @George_LeMieux, or @McCalister4FL. Including RepConnieMack in the list had almost no effect on the results.
- Because of #2, Bill Nelson, Mary Bono Mack, and Mitt Romney were only counted in tweets that also included at least one of the candidates. In other words, I did not go looking for these folks, they just showed up when our three GOP contenders were discussed.
- Twitter popularity is not a scientific poll. But I bet it’s a lot more accurate than asking a few grumpy insiders what they think!
- Just in case all the tweets about Connie were “hey, he’s losing his luster”, I read through them all. Virtually all of his mentions were supporters.