Candidates and voters embrace social media

President Obama sent out this tweet declaring victory Tuesday night. (BarackObama/Twitter)
November 7, 2012 10:39:27 PM PST
Social media has often been at the center of the conversation in the recent election, both in how the candidates used platforms like Twitter and Facebook and how Americans used them to talk about the race.

Twitter tallied 31 million election-related tweets Tuesday night, including one from President Barack Obama declaring victory on Twitter even before he declared it onstage. It became his most re-tweeted tweet ever, and the most liked photo ever on Facebook, with well over 3 million likes and growing.

In stark contrast, Mitt Romney has been a man of few words since Election Day. Other than a Facebook post thanking his followers, the former Republican candidate has been silent.

But someone on YouTube took the liberty of putting words in his mouth. A doctored video of Romney singing his concession speech has well over 60,000 views and growing.

Over at Twitter headquarters, they say the election signifies a big shift: four years ago, people were tweeting about what was on the news. Now, media are covering what people are tweeting about.

"We saw during the debates that people were engaging real time on Twitter and shaping the conversation; that ended up coming out the next day in the news," Erica Anderson said.

Twitter's been doing a lot of analysis on all the tweets. They've taken mention-tracking to the next level with the "Twindex," or Twitter political index.

It showed tweets about health care spiked sharply during each of the three debates. Tweets about gay rights skyrocketed on the eve of the election. And people started tweeting more positive things about both candidates in response to their get-out-the-vote messages.

"The Twitter political index was really meaningful because it began to show not just these one on one conversations are important to the candidates but in aggregate, the conversations on Ttwitter are really shaping the dialogue of the race; it's almost like a nationwide caucus is happening on Twitter," Anderson said.

The Twindex even breaks down voter sentiment by state and Twitter says it thinks it's proven to be just as valuable as any traditional polling method.

If there's one thing for sure -- the role of social media in politics will only continue to grow.


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