Don’t like the election results? Have a Mulligan!

As the last votes from election 2012 trickle in, people on both sides of the political divide have moved on from their initial reactions to the election towards planning for the future.  But the questions of could-have should-have still linger in many people’s minds: could a change in effort or focus have switched the results?

To answer that, it’s good to know how close the election really was.  We all know how many votes separate the two candidates, but apart from finding 3.5 million more declared, dedicated Romney voters, what would have changed the outcome?  There’s a lot of what-ifs that people will play in their mind, and most are impossible to quantify.  But one set of what-ifs are fairly easy to model: what if the demographics of the electorate had changed?

For example, what if the african-american vote had been lower? With enough fewer votes, Romney would have won:

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About 4 million fewer african-american voters, and Romney could have won.

Want to play with the demographics yourself? You can!  Just visit my Election Mulligan web page:

You can test such things as changing the male/female balance in the votes, adding in more rich voters or removing poor voters, seeing what happens if more latinos vote, or reducing the youth vote.  See what it takes to put Romney in the White House (if that’s your goal) or see how really hard it would have been for Romney’s Get-Out-The-Vote efforts to overcome Obama’s impressive campaign (if you like what happened)!

It’s fun, fast, and easy,  And you may be surprised how hard it would be to change the election.

The data for this app is based upon election results updated to 11/21 and exit polls conducted at the time of the election.  Note that exit polls are subject to error, and the results of this app are purely hypothetical.

Obama vs. Romney on Twitter — Ryan VP Pick week (8/12/2012)

With all of the excitement over Todd Akin, it’s easy to forget that last week was all about Romney picking Paul Ryan as his running mate.  But it was a busy week nonetheless, and it’s interesting to look at how it was played out on Twitter.

The first thing that stands out is that the number of tweets mentioning each candidate was roughly the same.  Both received about 1.9 million mentions on Twitter.  Romney may have fewer followers, but he’s just as hot of a topic.

For both of the candidates, about 45% of the tweets were retweets, while the rest were not (or were modified in the process).  There’s a lot of people expressing their opinions out there.  And what were those opinions?

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How did Twitter react to the Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare?

If you use Twitter, there’s no surprise that last week’s supreme court decision about the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is a hot topic.  So what’s everyone talking about?  I analyzed tweets from 6/28/2012 through the end of 7/3/2012:

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Does this mean that Twitter was  almost 2 to 1 (29%:18%) against Obamacare? Not quite — a lot of the humor was directed at anti-ACA folks (mostly, it seems, about them moving to Canada in protest).  Still, it’s clear that the anti-ACA tweeple have been more active.

It will be interesting to see if, in a week or so, whether this intensity keeps up …


To do this analysis, I did a statistically valid sampling of over 500 tweets from the nearly 500K tweets that contained keywords related to the act and the supreme court ruling.  I read each and every one of them (and sometimes followed the links in them to be certain of the intent).  I then assigned them to one of the categories you see above (and discarded ones that were not on the topic).  This sampling is designed to give each score a +/- 5% interval at 95% confidence.

There are several sources of bias, of course.  One is “volunteer bias”, which means that you cannot infer what the typical user of Twitter thinks, only what the typical tweet says.  There is also a risk of an analysis bias, in that I’m reading the tweets and assigning them to the categories the best that I can.  Sometimes, though, sarcasm and sincerity are hard to tell apart!

The Ups and Downs of Anti-Obama Hashtags

When the President said the private sector was doing fine1, it set off a storm of criticism from his political opponents.  And that storm spilled onto Twitter as well. These storms come like summer rain here in Florida: the sky clouds over, there’s lightning, thunder, and rain, and then the clouds part and the blue sky returns.

When you look at how two storms washed through Twitter — the #Julia infographic response and the #Doing[Just]Fine comment, we can see how brief these storms are:

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Typically, within a week virtually all the excitement is spent, and within two weeks it has drifted into the background.  On that schedule, by June 22nd the Doing Fine remark will be forgotten in favor the next excitement to come along.


  1. Seems like both candidates are starting to show wear already — Obama’s making gaffes while Romney is forgetting what doughnuts are called.  This is going to be a very long campaign for the two of them.

Twitter Secrets of the Obama Campaign: #6 – First Master the Fundamentals

[For the background on this series, please see the Introduction]

So far in this series I’ve talked about many of the tricks the Obama campaign is using to get the most out of Twitter, such as tracking links, using multiple accounts, and integrating Twitter into an overall marketing campaign. While the advanced techniques are the most interesting, it still pays to heed Larry Bird’s dictum “first master the fundamentals”.  Let’s see how the Obama campaign has followed that advice and mastered Twitter fundamentals.

I’ve talked a bit about some of the Obama basics before: in the second installment of this series I talked about the diverse subjects the campaign tweets about and how and when they include links.  That post covers the content of the tweets thoroughly and is worth a review.

But even more basic than that are issues of when to tweet, how frequently to tweet, and how to use the limited space of a tweet.  These issues are driven by the unique nature of Twitter: tweets are fairly ephemeral, scrolling quickly off a feed as they’re pushed down by new ones, and tweets are tightly constrained in length and content.

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