Twitter, the social media website hailed for helping to spur the Arab Uprising and push WikiLeaks into the global spotlight, is now turning its sights to polling with its first ever "Twindex" mapping user political sentiment.
The Twitter Political Index, or Twindex, will provide a daily measurement of Twitter users' feelings toward President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney as expressed in nearly two million Tweets sent each week.
Just like an approval rating, the Twindex runs from zero to 100. A score of 70, for example, would mean Tweets containing that name or account name are on average more positive than 70 percent of all Tweets, according to a Twitter blog post explaining the new tool.
A score of 50 would be neutral, with anything below skewing negative and anything above positive. As of Thursday morning, Obama's score was 44 (up 10 from the previous day) and Romney's was 26 (up one).
The idea for the Twindex came to Twitter staff after the importance of social media networking in the 2008 campaign. On election night that year, Tweet numbers exploded. Now, the same number sent that night is sent every six minutes.
The Twindex is meant to partner, not replace, traditional polling data, Twitter said, helping to provide minimal data before more solid polls can be released.
"Just as new technologies like radar and satellite joined the thermometer and barometer to give forecasters a more complete picture of the weather, so too can the Index join traditional methods like surveys and focus groups to tell a fuller story of political forecasts," Twitter said.
The company added, "It lends new insight into the feelings of the electorate, but is not intended to replace traditional polling — rather, it reinforces it."
Twitter partnered with data analysis company Topsy and polling firms The Mellman Group and North Star Opinion Research to create the Twindex. Each candidate's number is updated every day at 8:00 p.m. ET.
by RTT Staff Writer
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