Watch out Zogby and Gallup. There’s a new political pollster in town, and it can tell what 140 million people are thinking about the U.S. presidential race without calling them at dinner time. Twitter has launched a new political pulse-checker, Twitter Political Index that gives daily data about how Twitter users feel about the candidates for president of the United States, Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and presumptive Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
The Twitter Political Index measures daily how Twitter users feel about the candidates relative to more than 400 million tweets sent daily about all topics. The index updates data daily at 8 p.m., EST. It offers well-designed visualizations on Twitter users’ opinions about who should lead the free world. The project is a collaboration between data analysis company Topsy and two well-known political polling firms: The Mellman Group (historically a Democratic group) and North Star Opinion Research (historically a Republican group).
The Twitter blog describes this index as “a daily measurement of Twitter users’ feelings towards the candidates as expressed in nearly two million Tweets each week.” The new political resource further bolsters Twitter’s position as an authority on public opinion since use of the micro-blogging site continues to explode – especially as a forum for users’ political views. Twitter reports that more tweets are sent every two days now than had ever been sent prior to the vote for U.S. president in 2008.
So here’s how it works: Each day, the Twitter Political Index weighs the sentiment of tweets that mention Obama or Romney relative the more than 400 million tweets about, well, everything. The scale runs from one to 100, with 100 being highest, so a score of 73 for a candidate means tweets with their name or account name are on average more positive than 73 percent of all tweets.
On its blog, Twitter asserts that the new index reinforces more traditional polling methods, and points to President Obama’s Gallup approval ratings being largely mirrored by the index during the past two years. As the election draws nearer, Topsy will offer analysis of the data on their site, and American newspaper USA Today will use the index to create The USA Today/Twitter Election Meter on their site. Twitter has also created account @gov to tweet daily updates on the index.
Visit The Twitter Political Index