The Signal

Romney win captivates Twitter–for 10 minutes

David Pennock
The Signal

Almost immediately after polls closed at 8 p.m. ET, the major networks called the state of Florida for Mitt Romney. The markets were extremely confident in this outcome, as we noted yesterday, so there was no major movement in the overall odds for the nomination; Romney crept up about two percentage points to an 88 percent chance of being the Republican nominee for president.

The twittersphere erupted immediately, referencing the former Massachusetts governor at a rate of nearly 500 tweets per minute--for all of 10 minutes. (That's not necessarily abrupt, as far as Twitter goes.) Queries about Romney on Yahoo! Search also briefly spiked to about 10 times their usual rate. Romney enjoyed a second, lesser, spike as he delivered his victory speech. (Ron Paul, as usual, received the highest online interest among all the candidates during the Florida speeches.)

Our measure of Twitter sentiment found that, while the buzz around Romney was mostly negative at 8 p.m. as his victory in the Sunshine State became official, the tweets surrounding his speech were mostly positive, at least as judged by our algorithms that, like most machines, have trouble with sarcasm.

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Twitter volume after Florida primary, 2012-01-31

Twitter volume after Florida primary, 2012-01-31

For a time, the top hashtag associated with Romney (featuring an awful lot of characters) was #howmuchismittlikereagan. Two of the top 20 hashtags for Newt Gingrich (ok, numbers 19 and 20), which may have spoken to at least one small reason for his distant second-place finish in Florida were #mooncolony and #spacecadet. After Gingrich failed to congratulate Romney either by phone or in his speech, it would be no surprise if #nocongrats were next.

We have also begun to compute the top Twitter influencers associated with each candidate. Influencers, by our measure--still in beta, but you'll see more of it soon--are a combination of people who tweet often, who have recently tweeted about the candidate, and have a large follower/followed ratio.

A top influencer for Gingrich is Jesus_M_Christ. So Santorum doesn't feel left out, one of his top influencers is TheTweetOfGod.

FloridaJayhawk, a Twitter user who calls on followers to "Help Stop Mitt Romney Here & Now... BEAT MITT ROMNEY IN FLORIDA" is, at least for the moment, a top influencer for Romney, Rick Santorum, and Gingrich.

Ron Paul's supporters, as usual, took a different tack. Two top hashtags associated with the Viral Candidate are#girls4ronpaul and #ronpaulhaiku. On that note, we leave you with this haiku-summation of last night's developments.

Olympic Sunshine
See you forty six more, Mitt
88 to win


David Pennock is a Principal Research Scientist at Yahoo! Research. Follow him on twitter @pennockd.

Twitter analyses provided by the Content Science team at Yahoo! Labs.

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