Showing posts with label Twitter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Twitter. Show all posts

Friday, October 2, 2009

The 2012 Presidential Candidates on Twitter (Sept. 2009)

The negative momentum of August seems to have carried over into September. FHQ speculated when looking over the August Twitter numbers for the prospective 2012 GOP presidential candidates that the summer congressional recess and their attendant town hall meetings had kept the candidates away from actively utilizing the service (and gathering new followers). Now granted, not all of the candidates below are members of Congress. In fact. it took adding Mike Pence to the list to even the group up to three members. [After the tied-for-third finish in last month's Value Voters Summit straw poll, we were going to include the Indiana congressman anyway.] So that doesn't seem to be what's driving this downturn.

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Other than Newt Gingrich, no one else seems to be playing the invisible primary field through Twitter (and the former Speaker may not be a prolific Twitterer for that purpose in the first place). Tim Pawlenty is giving all indications that he's laying the groundwork for a run in 2012, John Thune is taking advantage of his position as head of the Republican Policy Committee in the Senate, Rick Santorum actually set foot in Iowa, Mitt Romney's doing all he can to maintain the air of a frontrunner and Sarah Palin is being Sarah Palin. But none of them are using Twitter to build a following and drive a message; well, not in the way that Palin is using Facebook at least. No, none of them are.


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Yes, Palin and Gingrich are the best positioned of the bunch to get a message out quickly via Twitter and that is even with Palin not tweeting since she left office in July. @SarahPalinUSA changed back to @AKGovSarahPalin and the former is now its own feed, but remains dormant for the time being. Also, Mitt Romney had another account verified through Twitter, so he's back to square one as well. The former Massachusetts governor continues to look good on paper for 2012, but that hasn't stretched to Twitter.

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Our new addition, Mike Pence, enters with a pretty good tweet per day ratio (more now than the dormant Sarah Palin). Like most however, Pence isn't getting much bang for his buck. For as much as the Indiana congressman is putting into Twitter, he's not getting many followers in return (see Follower Ratio below). Gingrich is understandable. He tweets a lot and has now cracked the one million follower barrier. However, for as much as they use Twitter (not that often), Bobby Jindal and Tim Pawlenty have pretty good followings and resultant follower ratios (followers per tweet per day).

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Still, it was another slow month on the Twitter front for the prospective 2012 Republicans. The argument could be made that the fight is elsewhere now -- away from 2010 or 2012 and focused on health care or cap and trade. That may be true, but couldn't these folks be using Twitter to speak out on those issues? Yes, and some are.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

FHQ Reading Room (9/23/09)

Is it too early to be talking about 2010 congressional predictions?

Tom Holbrook says yes (based on the data).

...and Charlie Cook responds that they aren't predictions; they're warnings.

FHQ's take: I love arguments based on semantics. Seriously though, who doesn't take what Cook is writing as a prediction? The bigger question is whether those reading it take them literally or of their own volition add the caveat that conditions may change between now and November 2010.

Is race an underlying factor in the opposition to Obama's health care reform agenda?

There has been an interesting (political science-based) discussion of this stemming from Jimmy Carter's recent comments.

John Sides weighs in here. And Seth Masket here and here. All are well worth reading.

FHQ's take: As spurious relationships go, this one is the spurious-est. Just because there is a high correlation between ice cream sales and swimming pool drownings doesn't mean that one is driving the other. Both are driven by rising prices. Obama was correct in saying that race wasn't the "overriding" factor and Bill Clinton (as Seth points out) said it even better by mentioning that those opposing Obama would oppose him if he was a white Democrat too.

Who tweets more? Congressional Democrats or Republicans?

Apparently it's Republicans. Additionally, here's a great site that aggregates the tweets of all members of Congress.

FHQ's take: Bookmark Tweet Congress.

What are you waiting for?

Bookmark it now. Go on.

The Dos and Don'ts of Vice Presidential Selection: A Guide for Presidential Nominees

John Edwards' continuing story got Andrew Gelman thinking which, in turn, got Jonathan Bernstein thinking.

FHQ's take: The result is a pretty good guide to VP selection. There has been a certain amount of chatter out there in terms of Republicans selecting the "none of the above option" in terms of those prospective candidates being polled with 2012 in mind. Makes you wonder if Huckabee or Romney would be potential running mates for someone like Palin or Pawlenty (I mean, if the Republican primary voters opt to go in a different direction in 2012 and both Romney and Huckabee still have political careers after all is said and done.).

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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.

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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.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

The 2012 Presidential Candidates on Twitter (June 2009)

Last month FHQ (or @FHQ*) joined the ranks of the Twitter nation in order to track not only how the prospective Republican presidential candidates use the service, but to gauge each person's follower level throughout the invisible primary period.

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The pattern in June looks pretty much as it did a month ago. To put it mildly, Newt Gingrich has either a tremendous head start or just a plain ol' lead over the other potential candidates. That advantage continues to dwarf the others to the point that the differences between them is hardly noticeable. [To add in the likely Democratic nominee, President Obama currently have more than 1.5 million followers.] Before I omit Gingrich in order to better examine the other candidates' followings, let me make a couple of caveats.

First, what you're seeing is a division in the data that isn't necessarily something that provides and apples to apples comparison. The blue portion of the bars is the follower level each candidate had from the creation of their Twitter account through the end of May (Well, May 27 to be exact.) while the red segment represents what the candidates gained since the original data was collected last month. No, that's not directly comparable, but as we continue to add in subsequent data in the months ahead, this start-up issue will lessen to some extent.

Secondly, what's to be done with John Ensign and Mark Sanford? I'm going to leave them both in for the time being despite the fact that their White House aspirations have been extinguished. However, if anything, it will be interesting to see how the two scandal-plagued pols, use Twitter in the continuing aftermath of their respective revelations. That's future omissions, but what about additions? I looked for a Mitch Daniels Twitter feed but the Indiana governor has yet to become a convert. Give it time, Hoosiers.

With that out of the way, let's look at the numbers for everyone but Gingrich, who added about 200,000 followers in June. The other three of the GOP "top four" -- Gingrich, Huckabee, Palin and Romney -- are ahead of the curve. [The top four are given that designation simply because they are the most mentioned candidates for 2012 in addition to being the ones consistently included in the admittedly scant polling on the 2012 race. The phenomenon seems to stretch to Twitter as well.] Though Romney lags behind (We'll get to why in a moment), Huckabee and Palin along with Bobby Jindal, there's still enough distance between the former Massachusetts governor and everyone else to include him in the group of candidates on the upper end of the Twitter follower distribution. Huckabee, Jindal and Romney had modest follower gains in June and Sarah Palin, like Newt Gingrich, had about a 60% increase in those following her in that same span.

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Of the remaining prospective candidates, no one, at this point, seems to be breaking from the pack to indicate any level of emergence. Ensign and Sanford may see increases, but it is a safe bet that those gains won't be related to folks searching them out because they're interested in the pair's White House chances.

Now, there's one factor that I alluded to last month but didn't delve into that deeply: the idea that a candidate's follower count is a function of how often the candidates are tweeting, not just interest in their presidential ambitions. Mitt Romney, for example, has an impressive list of followers for someone who is tweeting so infrequently. That may tell us something about people's interest in his potential candidacy in 2012. What about the others? Tim Pawlenty, like Romney, likely lags because the Minnesota governor isn't as frequent a tweeter as, say, Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich. The latter two tweet a lot and have a significant number of followers to show for it; each averaging over five tweets per day since they opened their Twitter accounts.

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Mike Huckabee is another candidate that tweets with relative regularity, but the former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate is hurt by the fact that he was an early adopter of Twitter (joining last summer). Of the rest, only Mark Sanford clears the one tweet/day barrier. But he's been pretty quiet since his "hike" last weekend.

One to watch? I'd keep an eye on John Thune. No, the support isn't there now, but with Ensign's resignation from the Republican Senate Policy Chair position and Thune's rise to that rank, the South Dakota senator has a higher profile now. Add to that Thune's new web site concerning the Sotomayor confirmation process (something FHQ tweeted), and you have an apparent increased web presence.

But I suppose we'll see in another month.

*And if you're not already following us, click here, sign up and follow. There are often items that are worth a read (and/or beyond the purview of this blog) that get a tweet.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

The 2012 Presidential Candidates on Twitter

The real reason FHQ now has a presence on Twitter is because I wanted to check out the involvement the top contenders for the 2012 Republican nomination have on the service. To me, that was the easiest way to answer the "How much is Twitter worth?" question. And the resounding answer to the question was, "A lot." With some caveats, all of FHQ's Elite Eight candidates for 2012 have a Twitter account and use them with varying levels of frequency. For instance, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee tweet quite a bit -- multiple times a day and every one of those Elite Eight (plus Bobby Jindal, John Thune, Haley Barbour and John Ensign) have at least put something up in the last week.

But who's watching? A Twitter presence obviously doesn't amount to much if no one is paying attention. Newt Gingrich, for instance, just yesterday made a couple of Sotomayor-related comments (here and here) that netted the former Speaker an additional 5000 followers. That is a drop in the bucket compared to his total number of followers, but that influx amounts to about a fifth of the total number of followers of the next highest prospective candidate, Sarah Palin.

To what extent, then, are the potential 2012 candidates being followed on Twitter?
As of yesterday around this time, Newt Gingrich had about 344,000 followers of his Twitter feed. For the sake of comparison, Barack Obama has about 1.3 million followers and FHQ has 1. Gingrich's total dwarfs all the other possible candidates and skews an otherwise nice figure. As such, let's remove the former Speaker and look at the remaining nine likely possibilities.
Basically, you have the troika of Palin, Jindal and Huckabee and then everyone else. Those three all offer relatively frequent contributions -- though Jindal has been quiet in May compared to April -- and that certainly helps augment their follower totals. Sure, Mitt Romney is there too, but that feed has but one tweet and overall is likely hampered by that fact -- in terms of Twitter at least. Charlie Crist is also hurt by the fact that he has started a feed to coincide with his Senate run announcement. In other words, that one has only been active for a couple of weeks.

Now, what does all of this mean? Well, tracking Twitter followers is interesting, but as is the case with Google Trends data, not without shortcomings. The main issue is whether those followers are active or if they are Twitter quitters. Gingrich has a solid total, but what if, say, a third of those followers aren't actively following anymore? [Well, that still beats everyone else, doesn't it?] Of course, it is more damaging when you consider the 60% drop off Nielsen found. Still, I think this is another layer that can be added in to the candidate emergence picture.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

FHQ Now on Twitter

To quote Fred Flintstone, "That's the camel that broke the straw back."

FHQ has finally broken down and joined the "tweeting" ranks. It may in fact just be a fad, but I can no longer justify shrugging the service off because of its overly short messages. In real time, nothing is more powerful for dispersing messages quickly and that has distinct ramifications in the political realm. We saw that with the Oklahoma Republican convention a few weeks ago. The mainstream media was not covering the GOP chair battle in Oklahoma -- the one that potentially would have had the party adopt a presidential caucus over the state-funded primary.

Plus, the political world seems to have adopted Twitter as well (see picture to the right). All of the possible candidates mentioned for the GOP nomination in 2012 have at least some presence on Twitter. In fact, you can now see their up-to-the-minute updates in FHQ's left-hand sidebar below the blogroll (Yes, way down there.). To go to the candidate's Twitter page simply click on the "about _ hours/minutes ago" link or just follow along here. I'll have more on this tomorrow, but for now a few notes about the sidebar gadget's functionality will suffice.

As for FHQ, you can add our Twitter feed (@FHQ) if you are so inclined (There is a link to the feed in the right sidebar above the Blog Archive). For now, my contributions will be confined to automatic postings of actual FHQ posts with attendant URLs, but that could change in the future. My feeling is, why deprive loyal FHQers of the opportunity to follow the site in a more mobile format if that's what they prefer.

Like I said, though, I'll have more on this tomorrow. In the meantime, have fun with the new gadgets.

NOTE: Also, please let me know if you experience any lags in site loading time when you're here. Adding these gadgets has slowed things down some and I want to keep tabs on that. Thanks.

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