Analysis of social media buzz around U.S presidential elections – 6 [MAINE CAUCUS]
After a string of losses in the past few weeks, Mitt Romney’s win at the Maine Caucus provided his campaign with a much-needed boost. In comparison to all the candidates running for president, Mitt Romney has the maximum social media buzz this week as well. The GOP front runner occupied approximately 32% of the social media conversations associated with the 2012 election since his big win on Saturday.
Share-of-voice of candidates
Romney’s popularity on social media sites is evident from the overwhelmingly high amount of tweets, posts on social networks, news articles and blogs written about him. It is interesting to note that although Rick Santorum has had a good run in the past few weeks, his good fortune seems to run out when it comes to online chatter around him on social media sites. Even rival Newt Gingrich, whose performance at the polls has been disappointing leads by 2 percentage points from Santorum. Ron Paul finished last, with a meager 11 percentage of chatter around him.
President Obama attracted far less mentions this week, compared to contender Mitt Romney who leads by a margin of 3% points. Barack Obama’s share of conversation although lesser than Romney, had managed to leap from 23% to 29% this week.
Sentiment for the week
Candidate Ron Paul continues to attract maximum positive conversations sixth week in a row, with around 42% of the conversations around him being positive. Ron Paul who has been criticized for his views on cutting social security and medicare recently announced that he will preserve social security and medical benefits for the elderly. This decision was welcomed by the online community and might finally repair some of the damage caused by his remarks in the past comparing social security to a ponzi scheme. Ron Paul’s exclusion from the CPAC did not go down well with the online community. Despite reassurance from Ron about his absence from the event due to travel plans, the news of Paul’s absence was met with skepticism from his fans who accused ACU of excluding him.
The candidate having maximum negative conversations around him was Rick Santorum, with around 1/3rd of the total conversations carrying a negative undertone. This was primarily due to his pro-life and anti-homosexual beliefs and policies.
“I’m Rick Santorum and I hate gays, blacks, muslims, and environmentalists.” This is essentially all I hear.
— Devin Harrison (@DeLaZoo) February 9, 2012
Candidate Mitt Romney despite having the highest social chatter did not have a sufficiently high positive buzz around him. Infact he had the second highest negative chatter after Santorum, primarily due to his constantly shifting stance on abortion and birth control. Mr. Romney’s evolution from abortion rights advocate to abortion foe, brought to light by a New York Times article published recently stirred heated discussions on Twitter.
President Obama whose controversial contraception mandate saw furious remarks from religious groups, was amended recently to pacify them to some extent. However, the Catholic Bishops openly expressed their discontent and said that they have “serious objections” to the new policy. The online community however maintained a neutral stance towards the subject.
I don’t know why Obama bothers. He can’t make the bishops happy,so he should just do what he knows is right. nytimes.com/2012/02/12/us/…
— Steven Harper Piziks (@StevenPiziks) February 11, 2012
Topical Trends and Associations
Even though Ron Paul flaunts the highest positive chatter amongst all the political candidates, the popular trends seem to be the ones driving negative chatter around him. Previously seen associations such as ‘racist’, ‘anti-choice’ are still made with respect to him.
Ron Paul is a racist and a homophobe who consistently fights for the rights of racists and homophobes while fighting against minority rights — djmeph (@djmeph) February 1, 2012
Another interesting trend is ‘myvotefactor’ which represents the Twitterverse’s votes and is a reflection of a candidate’s popularity on the platform. Till last week, Ron Paul had the highest percentage of votes in his favour. This week however, Newt Gingrich has tied with Ron Paul in having the highest votes on myvotefactor
Hey all you Ron Paul supporters! go to myvotefactor.com to vote for Ron PAUL!
— Jake Thomas (@TheJakeRT) February 10, 2012
During the CPAC, when Newt Gingrich challenged the Republican establishment with some bold ideas, it became a popular topic of debate on social media sites. Most people held a neutral stance on the subject.
Another popular topic was the various endorsements made in favour of Gingrich. When the likes of Col. Oliver North (Fox News military analyst) and Micheal Reagen pledged their support to Newt Gingrich, it was widely discussed online, especially on Twitter.
— Newt 2012 Coalitions (@NewtCoalitions) February 10, 2012
— Teri Grier (@tgarizon) February 11, 2012
Mitt Romney’s contender Santorum emerges as an important trend mainly because after Santorum’s string of victories, Romney’s emergence as the most obvious choice for being the Republican nominee has been minimized.
There have been 6 primaries / caucuses, Rick Santorum has won 4 of them. Tell me again why Romney is the “front-runner”? — Joseph Gilbert (@bstnteaparty) February 9, 2012
Another important topic dominating conversations was Romney’s admittance to payment of lower tax than millions of Americans., which was widely criticized on online channels.
Mitt Romney has a quarter billion in cash — that we know of — but he wants you to give $100 to help him cut his taxes and raise yours.
— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) February 10, 2012
There was chatter around a video on YouTube, showing Santorum endorsing Romney during the 2008 republican nomination which caught the online community’s attention. The video was mostly shared on Twitter and the underlying sentiment was largely neutral.
Another presidential candidate facing troubles over his tax returns is Rick Santorum, who is being criticized for not releasing his tax returns. The sentiment around these conversations is predominantly negative, with the online community urging him to disclose his tax returns.
— Vernon D. Dennis, Jr (@vernondennis) February 13, 2012
Other topics driving conversations around Santorum were his seeking protection from the secret service and Metal band Megadeth’s frontman Dave Mustaine’s endorsement of Santorum. Although, people held a neutral stance towards the former topic, the latter invoked their interest and was discussed especially on Twitter.
Santorum says he’s in talks about whether to get Secret Service protection. — Shushannah Walshe (@shushwalshe) February 15, 2012
Chatter around Barack Obama revolved around his administration’s HHS mandate. This mandate forces Catholic institutions to provide their employees with contraceptives, sterilization and abortificients. The chatter has garnered negative sentiments especially from the catholic community.
Friends, I’m happy to tell you that Priests for Life has decided to sue the Obama Administration re the HHS mandate. We will not comply!
— Frank Pavone (@frfrankpavone) February 9, 2012
Another trend driving negative chatter around Obama was pertaining to the budget cuts on NASA space exploration programs, with people mostly expressing displeasure over the cuts.
Another example of failed Obama leadership. Less than 25% of NASA budget goes to human exploration of space. 33% soc.li/KBQsaPW
— Philmore Anderson (@PhilmoreB) February 10, 2012
The positive chatter was driven by the Obama government giving almost $150 million for research in solar, wind, geo-thermal energy.
President Obama Ups the Clean Energy Ante by a Cool $150 Million bit.ly/znMH1O
— alglobalyBlogspotCom (@zixri_net) February 12, 2012
With Santorum and Romney being shoulder-to shoulder, the race to being the GOP nominee is becoming even more intense. Will Romney’s popularity on social media sites get reflected in the polls? Catch our post next week as we analyse the results of the Arizona Primary and dissect the social buzz around your favourite candidates.
What do you think about our assessment? Got more ideas? Please leave your comments below.