The State of Florida’s 2014 Gubernatorial Race on Twitter

With Alex Sink deciding to drop out of the race for governor, it’s worth taking a look at how the other potential candidates have been doing over the past few months:

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What’s interesting is how much of the steam has gone out of Twitter for all but Rick Scott.  Charlie Crist has been appearing at a bunch of local events, but without making a formal announcement he’s flying under the radar.  Nan Rich is still not igniting passion on social media.  That leaves it open for Rick Scott to define the topics of the conversation and to wait for the economy to further improve.  It seems to me that the longer Crist waits, the stronger Scott gets. 


Florida Governor’s Race on Twitter, March 2013

March is in the history books.  How did Twitter treat our much talked about gubernatorial possibles? Here’s the frequency of Twitter mentions for each of them:

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Rick Scott still dominates Twitter — as the sitting governor, you’d expect that.  Charlie Crist is doing pretty well in mentions.  Perhaps rumors of his announcing a run at the Kennedy King dinner in May will drive his mentions higher in April?

The rest of them … only Will Weatherford is doing well (spoiler: on 4/2 Adam Putnam’s tweet about Florida’s 500 got a lot of play — we’ll see if that gives him a bump that lasts). The rest of the rest, not so well…

One thing that’s amazing — Rick Scott has this weird regular pulse to his mentions.  Here’s a longer term view of Scott’s mentions on Twitter:

Rick Scott's Heartbeat? Click to enlarge

Rick Scott’s Heartbeat? Click to enlarge

I ran this through a FFT (Fast-Fourier Transform) which shows the dominant frequencies in the Twitter activity:


What we see is that Twitter activity for Rick Scott tends to be clustered on a 4-day and a 7-day cycle.  Eyeballing the (previous) chart, you can see the weekly cycle at work.  One has to wonder if this isn’t some strange way governor’s office works — do they just send out news on Tuesdays and Fridays?  I’m not sure — I’ll dig into this next month if this keeps up!


Medicaid aids Scott on Twitter in February 2013

February was shaping up to be a quiet month on Twitter for Florida’s sitting governor, Rick Scott, and his possible contenders … until Scott announced his support for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion:

Guess when Scott OK’ed Medicaid? Click on image to enlarge.


Well that certainly set the agenda for the next week!  Interestingly, sentiment on Twitter was positive, on balance (though sentiment is notoriously hard to measure accurately).

What about the rest of the possible 2014 contenders for Scott’s office?  It’s hard to see them as more than noise after Medicaid, but if you take Scott out of the picture you can see a bit more about how they’re performing:

For Crist, it was Greer and Bear it.  Click to enlarge

For Crist, it was Greer and Bear it. Click to enlarge

Charlie Crist got a lot of activity early in the month in relation to Jim Greer’s trial and guilty plea.  Alex Sink made some news where she stepped back from the race.  And Will Weatherford, speaker of Florida’s house, suddenly became a contender for 2014 as a primary challenger against Scott (H/T St. PetersBlog.  NB: The stats here only started tracking him as of 2/23).  For Nan Rich, unfortunately, Twitter is still mostly terra incognita.

It’s still too early to draw any conclusions — but it’s interesting to see that for both Crist and Scott, a lot of Twitter activity was controversial in nature. Will Scott controlled the timing of his announcement, it’s clear that the conversations about both Crist and Scott are being driven by external events.  Let’s see if, over time, they can start to define their own narrative on Twitter.

Florida’s 2014 Governor Race on Twitter: January 2013 Stats

What a difference a month makes.  In December, Charlie Crist dominated Twitter with talk about his registering as a democrat.  Last month, it was pretty much all Rick Scott, with conversation about Medicaid and dogs:


Click to enlarge

For Crist and Sink, it’s obscurity in comparison.  Just looking at the two of them, we can see that Crist is still leading in Twitter mentions:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

(Next month I’ll add Nan Rich into the charts.)

One important thing to note: Neither of the two of them are active on Twitter at this point, so all mentions are in response to news and commentary from others.

Some unsolicited advice to the candidates:

Rick Scott:

Try to find ways to make the conversation on Twitter about you more positive.  Find things that are symbolic grand gestures.  Something like saying that you want the state to pay the tuition of all Florida high school graduates who undertake a $10K college degree program in state.  That ought to consume a whole month or two of twitterdom.  Do that sort of thing once a month up to November 2014, and there’s no oxygen left for your competitors.  Call it your theme a month program.  Just be creative.

Charlie Crist:

Were you thinking of tweeting this year? That might help. Just tweet pictures of you doing whatever you’re doing  Find ironic or teasing things if nothing else: “Here’s me and my dog.  Yep, we’re going to keep her.” Or “Here’s Carole and me in front of the Governor’s mansion. One of these years I should probably give her a tour of it.” And may I point out that you and Carole are extremely photogenic?  No shame in selfies.

Alex Sink:

At least Charlie Crist tweeted more than once last year.  If it weren’t for your fans you’d be absent from Twitter.  Just tweeting links to articles about you that you half-way like would be a start. Since you’re the ex-CFO, why not talk about the state’s finances for a while?

Buddy Dyer:

At least Alex Sink has a twitter account. You could have fun with it. Get a twitter account and start with things like “Day 1: no tweets from lobbyists telling me how to vote. Is this thing on?” and “Day 2: If I have a campaign event with food, is that a large group feeding?” I assure you you will have thousands of followers in no time. You can become dull and safe later on.

Nan Rich:

You’re the most active person on Twitter of the democratic contenders. You win the gold star social media awareness. But very few people are following you — you need to work on getting your engagement higher. Start putting some hashtags into your tweets.  At the very least, tag every tweet with #sayfie to get it in front of the Florida political junkies.  There’s a lot more you can do. Remember, Marco Rubio snuck up on Charlie Crist by winning over social media.  You can do it too.

Final notes …

It’s still early, but now’s the time for the candidates to invest in building a social media presence.  In the thick of the campaign, when it’s needed, it will be hard to get attention and hard work to grow it.  Get it ready now when there’s time and it will pay dividends right through November ’14.

Florida’s 2014 Governor Race: Charlie Crist Dominates Twitter in December

The month of December 2012 isn’t quite over, but it’s clear that when it comes to Twitter it’s been all Charlie Crist:

Click to see full-size version

Click to see full-size version

Crist’s re-registering into the Democratic Party — considered by most a harbinger of his entry into the 2014 race — generated huge commentary on Twitter.  His testifying before the US Senate Judiciary Committee produced a second blip for him later in the month, although a poll showing Rick Scott to be unpopular boosted Scott’s Twitter mentions that same day.

So far, for the month, it has been 19K+ mentions of Charlie Crist that had an overwhelmingly positive sentiment, 10k+ mentions of Rick Scott, and just under 1K mentions for Alex Sink, the 2010 unsuccessful democratic candidate (and who is thought to be interested in running again).

The challenge for Charlie Crist will be to sustain his lead in Twitter.  Switching parties generated a lot of buzz — both pro and con — but other news events (like his testimony) generate far smaller reactions on Twitter.  I believe that Rubio’s masterful use of social media combined with the governor’s very limited social media efforts helped Rubio knock Crist out of the senate race in 2010.  Crist will need to work harder to stay on top-of-mind in social media this time around.  There’s few block-buster events he can count on, and it’s going to be a long grind before people start to focus on the 2014 race.

Alex Sink will need to begin to engage in social media if she’s going to make a run for the office again; to be fair, though, there can be no criticism of her delaying those efforts (or a decision) for a few months given her recent loss.

And for Rick Scott? He’s constantly being mentioned on Twitter, but his sentiment scores tend to balance out.  He’s going to need to find a way to improve the conversation about him on Twitter.

Translating Twitter activity into results at the ballot box is not particularly reliable, but in the recent senate race Connie Mack’s early domination of Twitter predicted his success in the primaries.