Thursday, September 3, 2009

The 2012 Presidential Candidates on Twitter (Aug. 2009)

August meant more than just summer vacation and a congressional recess. Ultimately, the month proved to be -- given those distractions -- a slow month for the prospective 2012 candidates on Twitter. Even at 140 characters or less, most of the (now growing group) of possible candidates found other ways to while away the waning days of summer.

Of course, much of that could have been fueled, at least in terms of perception, by the sudden absence of the most prolific Twitterer of the bunch, Sarah Palin. @AKGovSarahPalin called it quits on the microblogging service as soon as her resignation from the chief executive's position in the 49th state became official, but promised to return (apparently as @SarahPalinUSA) sometime in the future. That day has not come, which leaves us with a conundrum here at FHQ. How do we account for the former Alaska governor's following between two accounts? Much of that issue will disappear eventually once Palin actually begins tweeting again on her new account. For the time being, though, her original account is still pulling in more followers (even with no new tweets since our last update) than the new account, sans tweeting, has. For the time being, then, we'll be using the original account in our updates. And really that only affects her tweets per day numbers and her follower ratio (She's still well ahead of all the other prospective candidates, save Newt Gingrich.). For comparison, however, FHQ will note that @SarahPalinUSA has (as of this morning) just under 4000 followers.

But how did everyone else fare during August?

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What can you say? Newt Gingrich continues to dwarf all the other candidates with only Palin putting a dent in the former Speaker's advantage. Well technically, it isn't really a dent as Gingrich is still gaining more per month, but Palin is the only one who really registers. Even that is a distant second, though. At the moment (as of this morning) Gingrich was closing in on the one million follower mark. One politician he does trail is Barack Obama who has recently crested above the two million follower level. The bully pulpit, it seems, stretches into the microblogging realm as well.

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But let's pull Gingrich out and see where the other Twittering pols come in this month. One addition we've made since the July update is Rick Santorum, who appears to be testing the waters for a possible run at the GOP nomination in 2012. I'd wager, he's hoping to get a better response on the campaign trail than on Twitter thus far. That probably isn't a fair assessment, though, considering the former Pennsylvania senator only began tweeting in late July. Still, he's got some catching up to do. There's a little flash of green by his name above, but this graph is clearly about Palin, with Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal representing the only others who avoid (what should be dubbed) the monthly Twitter afterthought designation.

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Granted, as FHQ has argued, a Twitter following is conditioned by how often a candidate is tweeting. Some 2012ers tweet more than others. Gingrich and Palin (even though the latter isn't currently active on the service) continue to maintain large tweet per day numbers. And Mike Huckabee is the only other candidate who makes Twitter a daily routine. Everyone else is only sporadically adding to their comments. FHQ has made a habit of pointing out how Palin, Huckabee and Romney have been constantly clustered together atop 2012 primary polling throughout 2009, but only the former Arkansas governor and his colleague from the north are the ones active through this medium. Mitt Romney, despite being the early favorite for the 2012 nomination, has not turned to Twitter as a means of amassing a following for political purposes. It seems the Bay state's former governor has been busy raising money through his Free and Strong American PAC and making donations to those up for reelection in 2010 to turn to Twitter. But grassroots growth is something that would likely work well for Palin or Huckabee and would make Twitter a valuable tool. Romney on the other hand is working the establishment within the Republican Party and Twitter honestly is not going to do him much good in that capacity. Now, that may change when and if Romney officially announces in say, early 2011, but he may remain a quiet microblogger between now and then. A sudden uptick in Twitter usage may signal Romney is getting ready though. We'll see.

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Even without being too terribly active, Romney still has a pretty good Follower Ratio (followers/tweet/day). The former Massachusetts governor trails only Newt Gingrich in that respect. Only Bobby Jindal registers anything approaching the bang for the buck that those two are getting out of what they put into the service. And that is where Palin continues to lack. Sure, the Alaskan has been tweetless since July, but for what she put into it even before her resignation, she wasn't getting much of a return in terms of a following.

FHQ will be back next month to see if that changes any.

See FHQ's May, June and July Twitter updates as well.

Recent Posts:
State of the Race: Virginia Governor (9/2/09)

State of the Race: New Jersey Governor (9/1/09)

State of the Race: Virginia Governor (9/1/09)

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