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Want to know who will win the Iowa Caucus? There may now be a more effective tool than exit polls. Twitter, which has already proved an effective tool for gauging reactions to everything from Osama bin Laden's death to Kim Kardashian's divorce, is now being used to track candidate buzz in the 2012 elections and is ready for action in today's caucuses.
The Washington Post launched Tuesday a real-time web app called @MentionMachine that tracks the volume of Twitter and media mentions each candidate receives over time, compares their mentions to other candidates', and captures sentiment by displaying the most popular stories and tweets related to individual candidates over the past week.
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Readers can access the app through a toolbar displayed alongside all Post stories and and blog posts that mention the 2012 candidates. Reporters will also be using the data in their own reporting, and provide much-needed context for various spikes and dips in mention volume.
Cory Haik, executive producer for news innovation and strategic projects at The Washington Post, says the app has the potential to be "an early indicator well ahead of polls or other traditional campaign measures."
The app was built in-house and leverages data from more than 10,000 news sources and Twitter's API. Haik says she plans to continue to improve the product to measure not just volume of mentions, but the sentiment of those mentions as well.
This story originally published on Mashable here.