Twitter launched a new tool Wednesday to analyze voter sentiment through tweets. Twitter compared the new tracking index to an approval rating that will provide a daily update on Twitter users' response to the candidates.
The Twitter Political Index will provide "a daily measurement of Twitter users’ feelings towards the candidates as expressed in nearly two million Tweets each week," according to a blog post from Twitter.
The project, a partnership between Twitter, social analytics company Topsy and the polling firms Mellman Group and North Star Opinion Research, will leverage the massive amount of public information available in the form of tweets to demonstrate a general sense of voter sentiment about the presidential candidates.
The first result, available Wednesday, puts Obama in the lead with a score of 34, and Romney with 25. According to Twitter, this means that tweets containing Obama's name or account name are, on average, more positive than 34 percent of all other tweets sent that day. Since more than 400 million tweets are sent per day, according to Twitter, 34 percent is a decent score and means Twitter users are significantly more positive toward the president than toward his presumed GOP challenger.
Twitter is touting the tool as a revolutionary supplement to traditional voter polling, and they could be right. There has been some evidence that Twitter predicts subsequent polls as well as voting results. Twitter says its tool will respond more quickly to unexpected political events, which is likely true as people tweet in real-time.
Day-long Twitter conversations can also ultimately be a blip when it comes to elections, especially in 2012, when the parties often battle it out in dueling hashtags. But over time, Twitter's indexed results will likely show an interesting tick-tock for campaign season.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo indicated Twitter's interest in becoming indispensable to the campaigns this year when he said in January that “2012 is going to be the Twitter election.”