A recently released Pew study declared, "The reaction on Twitter to major political events and policy decisions often differs a great deal from public opinion as measured by surveys." Sometimes Twitter reaction is more liberal than public opinion, sometimes more conservative, said Pew. But when it comes to Twitter reaction regarding the 2012 elections and President Obama's inauguration, the tilt was decidedly pro-Obama.

My firm tracked word of mouth throughout the 2012 election in partnership with the National Journal, picking up both the 90% of word of mouth about the election that took place offline, as well as what was being talked about online via social media, texting, and so forth.

When the Pew results came to our attention we looked again at our research and found the pro-Obama bias is not just a matter of what gets tweeted, it's inherent in the Twitter audience itself. In the data below, we are showing the results of adult Twitter users compared to the total adult public, regardless of whether they are tweeting or talking offline about the election and the candidates.

When we compare the totality of adult conversations about Obama and Romney throughout the fall to the conversations of people who use Twitter (defined as the 10% of American adults who use Twitter once per week or more) the results are clear.

Conversations about Obama are more positive among Twitter users than among the total public, while conversations about Romney are less positive.

Ed+Keller
Source: Keller Fay Group's TalkTrack®, July – Early November 2012

The differences are even more dramatic when we look at the topics people talked about when they talked about each candidate. In conversations about Obama, Twitter users are far more likely than the total to have talked about liking the candidate, wanting to vote for the candidate, and talking about issues about which they and the candidate agree upon.


Source: Keller Fay Group's TalkTrack®, July – Early November 2012

Contrast the Obama results with these about Romney. Twitter users are more likely than the public as a whole to talk about disliking the candidate, not wanting to vote for the candidate, and about issues about which they and the candidate disagree.

Ed+Keller
Source: Keller Fay Group's TalkTrack®, July – Early November 2012

Pew concluded its report by observing, "Overall, the reaction to political events on Twitter reflects a combination of the unique profile of active Twitter users and the extent to which events engage different communities and draw the comments of active users." Our analysis suggests it is more about the inherent nature of the Twitter audience itself, at least at this stage of Twitter's development.

Ed Keller, CEO of the Keller Fay Group, has been called "one of the most recognized names in word of mouth." His new book, The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace, was recently published by Free Press/Simon & Schuster. You can follow Ed Keller on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, or contact him directly at ekeller@kellerfay.com.

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