Caucuses, straw polls, primaries, and Twitter. This is how the GOP presidential candidate will be decided in 2012. Well, maybe not actually on Twitter, but political pundits are watching Twitter closely this election cycle as if peering into a crystal ball. Can anything be gleaned from the Twitter feed?
As social media continues to grow in number of active users and collective influence, these sites are providing valuable feedback this election cycle. In addition to social media analysis, there are traditional publications tracking and reporting on the data. For example, the Washington Post has @MentionMachine for monitoring how often a candidate is mentioned. The publication lists weekly the number of mentions for each candidate in a week as well as their mentions in traditional media. Here’s a screen shot for last week, which was leading up to Michigan and Arizona primaries Tuesday night:
Rick Santorum had the most mentions in the past week, but did not win either primary. This, though, is not surprising. The Twitter stream isn’t about a popularity contest. I believe in this instance it is more closely related to an anger or frustration with candidates. This is an opportunity for individuals to ‘sound off’ on a topic. Mr. Santorum has angered a lot of women recently with his extreme and sexist views, which I think is reflected in the numbers. From watching the Twitter stream, Mr. Romney is also making many angry by giving the vast majority of the population the feeling of being marginalized.
These two candidates shouldn’t worry about losing to President Obama though. If this election doesn’t work for them, they could create the Rick & Mitt show, ala Charlie Sheen’s stand up routines; hateful, contradictory comments, with little coherency seemed to make Sheen a lot of money. That is a more appropriate place for the rants Americans have been subjected to from their campaigns.
Mitt Romney has also been reaching out to the “common” people, letting them know he is unemployed as well. It’s an I-feel-your-pain tactic that has not been working for him. But Mr. Romney has a great opportunity to be employed again, performing in a traveling show with Rick Santorum. My guess is the guys have a better shot at the show than the presidency.
Maybe Calista could sing as the opening act. I think she will also be available.