Saturday, August 8, 2009

The 2012 Presidential Candidates on Twitter (July 2009)

For the last couple of months FHQ (or @FHQ) has been tracking the Twitter feeds of some (or most) of the prospective 2012 Republican presidential candidates (see the May and June updates). And yes, it's time for a belated update covering the changes from July (and the first 5 days in August).

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I'm not going to over-analyze this because most of the patterns from the previous iterations earlier in the summer were sustained in July. Newt Gingrich, I think, qualifies as a chronic Twitterer, and as such, has built up quite a following. None of the other possible candidates come close to matching the former speaker's following. And that still has the effect of skewing how the other candidates are perceived with Gingrich included. So let's take him out and see where everyone stands (...other than well behind the Georgian):

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From this view, Sarah Palin is the new Newt Gingrich. Her post-resignation announcement didn't do anything to hurt her Twitter following, as she saw a more than 100% increase over her total number of Twitter followers entering the month. Of course, with the now former Alaska governor's resignation becoming official on July 26, her @AKGovSarahPalin feed is no more. Now, I've been out of the loop this last week because of my move, but I haven't seen any news of her reappearing on Twitter with a new feed account name. Obviously, as long as Palin is without an account, she can't be accurately counted in these monthly updates and that also introduces the issue of how to account for her new feed and its following once it is up and running. She will, after all, be starting from scratch and it may take her time to clear that 100,000 follower barrier again.

Other than Palin and Gingrich, though, Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee continue to have solid followings with Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty further back. Everyone else is lagging. Yeah, John Ensign is in Pawlenty territory in terms of his following, but the Nevada senator and Mark Sanford are still being considered here only to see how their scandals affect their standing in the Twitter-verse. Neither are serious candidates for president in 2012 at this point, if either ever was to begin with in the first place.

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But here's the thing about all this: Followings are somewhat dependent upon how often someone is tweeting (and who they are). If we shift to observing the number of tweets each candidate has per day (based on the number of days since the candidate began using Twitter), we again see Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich at the top, well ahead of the other prospective Republican presidential candidates. And while that may be the case, we don't really get a sense of how much bang for the buck each candidate is getting from using Twitter. For that we need an index that compares the tweets per day data above to the number of followers; something FHQ will call the Follower Ratio. This controls not only for the time aspect (how long each candidate has been using Twitter), but the number of other Twitter users following them as well. The higher the follower ratio, then, the more a candidate is getting out of the service. For instance, you can tweet all that time, but if no one's watching, what does it matter (The old, if a tree falls in the forest question.)? Once we take those factors into account, what do the usages of Twitter by the prospective 2012 Republican presidential candidates look like?

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Gingrich is still up there, but suddenly Sarah Palin has dropped off. The former Alaska governor is not getting the same level of return on her tweeting investment as the former speaker. Yet, now Bobby Jindal and Mitt Romney have improved positions vis a vis the other potential candidates. In other words, for what each is putting into Twitter, they are getting a fairly good return on that usage. Each has a pretty good following considering both Jindal and Romney put next to nothing into Twitter. For Jindal, that means a tweet every four days or so and for Romney, a tweet approximately every eleven days. While they aren't tweeting with Gingrich-like frequency, they are getting a good return on a small investment. Couched in slightly different terms, there seems to be a good level of interest in both Jindal and Romney's Twitter feeds despite the fact that they only rarely update them. Contrast that with someone like Mike Huckabee, who tweets almost twice a day, but doesn't have the following to match that rate. It would be interesting to compare that figure to various PAC contributions to see whether the interest on Twitter in any way correlates to the interest in contributing. Looking at the PAC receipts, the ordering matches up: Romney > Palin > Huckabee.

In any event, this ratio will be something to keep our eye on over time.


Recent Posts:
FHQ is back...

State of the Race: Virginia (7/31/09)

State of the Race: New Jersey (7/31/09)

6 comments:

AKReport said...

Palin has a big facebook following

around 700,000

Josh Putnam said...

She does,and that may be a better forum for her than Twitter. That isn't to say she won't have a solid following when she's back on Twitter, but I've checked out her Facebook wall and that is literally a far better forum for her supporters to sound off.

Jack said...

"Literally"?

Is this Josh Putnam or Joe Biden?

Josh Putnam said...

I should get kudos for being verbose on a Blackberry. I hammered that comment out while furniture shopping. Not bad. But if "literally" is a sticking point, I'll strike it from the record.

Incidentally, Palin did sort of prove my point over the weekend with her Facebook post regarding health care.

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