Super Tuesday is over. The candidates have been “liked,” tweets have been tweeted, and votes have been cast. The results from Super Tuesday from races in ten states – including Virginia, Massachusetts, Vermont, Tennessee, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Georgia, Idaho, Arkansas and, of course, the all-important Ohio – determined Mitt Romney the Super Tuesday winner as he claimed six states. As people took to the polls to cast their votes, social media served as a tool to shape political conversations.
During the 2008 presidential election, social media broke political ground and was integral to Obama’s “Vote for Change” campaign. According to the Wall Street Journal, “In November 2008, Twitter had about four million users, and 100,000 followed candidate Obama,” which undoubtedly helped to fuel his victory. Social media has since become a mainstay in the political environment, influencing conversations leading up to the 2012 Presidential election.
Prior to Super Tuesday, people used social media as a platform for political discussions about the GOP candidates. By using social media analysis, we gain insight into the power of social media as a tool for political engagement and the effect participants have on election outcomes. Before Mitt Romney was declared the winner overall, social media activity foreshadowed his success.
To compete in this year’s election, candidates must leverage the power and influence of social networks in order to reach potential voters.
This report is intended to decipher the magnitude social media plays in relation to:
· Voter turn out
· Candidate share of voice across social networks
· The impact of women online on primary outcome
SOCIAL CHATTER vs. VOTER TURNOUT
Finding: Of the voting states, participants who engaged in social media conversations were greatest for Ohio with 6,459 people. The next three states with the greatest amount of social media participants, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Tennessee, also saw the most voter turnout, trailing Ohio.
Analysis: Looking into this trend we see – for the top four states – the greater the number of participants in online conversations, the more people turn out to vote. Although the pattern does not necessarily correlate for the states with less online buzz and voter turn out, it does suggest that people involved in online political discussions will influence others to submit their votes.
SOCIAL MEDIA BUZZ: CANDIDATE COMPARISON
Finding: A week prior to Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney generated the majority of online conversations of the GOP candidates with 34%, followed by Ron Paul (26%), Newt Gingrich (21%), and Rick Santorum (19%).
Analysis: Social media activity surrounding each candidate indicated public interest through participation.
Romney generated the greatest share of online conversations, and subsequently, won the most votes in the Super Tuesday primaries. However, volume of conversations does not always predict success. Ron Paul generated the second highest number of online conversations, but the least amount of votes. As a controversial figure, his presence generated social media conversations, reflecting public interest though not necessarily political support.
Going into November’s election, the volume of social conversations serves as a barometer of voter interest in each candidate.
WOMEN PREDICT PRIMARIES
Finding: Women accounted for less than half of all online conversations for each candidate but directly correlated with overall number of votes.
Analysis: Even though women’s suffrage in the United States was granted in 1920, men still dominate as participants in online political conversations. However, female participation correlated positively with candidate success. Tuesday’s winner, Mitt Romney, had the greatest female participation (46%). Conversely, Ron Paul only had 25% female participants, and consequently failed with the least amount of votes. The power of this finding suggests that engaging women in political discussions via social media is imperative for winning votes.
Powered by Tracx, Attention analyzed the four main delegates that participated in Super Tuesday over one-week from February 29 – March 6, 2012.
All polling data courtesy of CNN.