Sarah Palin crashes Super Tuesday party on Twitter

Ana-Maria Popescu & Marco Pennacchiotti
The Signal

Rick Santorum won the zero-delegate Twitter primary on Super Tuesday with the two largest spikes in mentions over the course of the night, but his closest competition wasn't fellow candidate Mitt Romney. The silver medal in the most-tweeted competition was a tie between Newt Gingrich and none other than Sarah Palin, whose CNN interview in which she hinted at a run for the White House exacted more interest than the election itself.

As we've seen time and again, however, the people with the tallest spikes on the tweet-volume graphs are those who inspire the most passion and the most hatred. Our in-house algorithms that measure positive and negative sentiment identify a common pattern: When a candidate takes the stage in a televised speech, an initial spike in positive tweets is quickly accompanied by a negative one as detractors join the commentary.

Mitt Romney's speech registered the highest negative sentiment spike of the night for the four candidates. Surface criticisms touched on his appearance and a few flubs while speaking.

@MattGoldich: Mitt Romney is so boring, he dresses as Jason Sudeikis for Halloween.
@DSHurricane93 : Does Mitt Romney have a speaking problem?

More importantly, the criticisms addressed the substance of his speech. Our quote extraction technology, which measures which statements resonate the most on Twitter, found that Romney's most-shared quote was a humorous paraphrase of his standard stump speech: "I'll do everything opposite of Obama!"
In addition to hashtags expressing support, such as #endorsemitt and #wecantwait, ones like #unions and #uaw show up as reminders of groups that are mobilizing against a potential Romney presidency.

Some other highlights:

Ann Romney, who usually gets a much more positive reaction on Twitter, came under criticism for her gaffe about not considering herself wealthy.  @clarkekant wrote : "Hey, Ann Romney, try stretching a box of Hamburger Helper over 3 nights for a family of 5 and tell me how 'not wealthy' that makes you feel."

As with Mitt Romney, our quote extraction technology found that the most cited statement for Rick Santorum was fabricated: "I support the rights of the unborn child until it's born and wants a gay marriage."

Top quotes from Twitter:


  • "Economy back on track … when we get government out of the way."
  • "It's good to be home for the first time in two months."
  • "President Obama has run out of excuses, he's run out of ideas. We're going to get him out."
  • "You have not failed. You have a president who has failed you."
  • "If there's one thing we cannot afford, it's four years of Barack Obama with no one to answer to."


  • "I am a real American."
  • "Our only opponent is Barack Obama."
  • "Wall Street money can be beaten by Main Street work."
  • "This campaign is far from over."
  • "There are lots of bunny rabbits that run through. I am the tortoise."
  • "Remember when it was Tim Pawlenty who was going to crowd me out?"
  • "We are not going to allow the elite to decide who we are allowed to nominate."


  • "This is the beginning of the end of freedom in America."
  • "Our rights come to us from our creator."
  • "A battle over the basic liberties this country was founded on."
  • "Once the government has control of your life, then they got you."

Example tweets:

Mitt Romney

@pourmecoffee: Mitt Romney really racking up delegates. He's going to need a bigger car top carrier to store them all.

@HuffPostMedia: Al Sharpton: "they all have baggage, it's just that Romney has enough money for bellhops to carry his." #imagery #supertuesday

@OnionPolitics: Poll: 63% Of Americans Say They Have A Problem With A Mormon President Who Is Also Mitt Romney

Rick Santorum

@President: Rick Santorum's Secret Army: Home-Schoolers.

@donnabrazile: Both Santorum & Gingrich failed to qualify for the ballot in Virginia. Guys, there's a term for people who don't qualify—"unqualified."

@bfouhy: I just went in there and said, "Eenie, meeny, miny, moe. And Santorum came up as moe." A GA voter tells AP how he chose Santorum.  #random

@140elect: Gingrich won his home state, Romney won a state where Santorum and Gingrich weren't on the ballot. Exciting #SuperTuesday so far

Newt Gingrich

@foxnewspolitics: Exit polls: Gingrich won every demo in Georgia except those who said strong moral character was most important."

@pourcoffee: Newt Gingrich wins Georgia. This means everyone in Georgia gets $2.50 gas. Just tell the guy "Newt sent me."

@LOLGOP: Newt wins Georgia, which is only a swing state when Newt is home, if you know what I mean. #SuperTuesday

@jonward11: Santorum aide: If Newt doesn't do well outside Ga "the path is 4 him 2 move aside & let us have a 1 on 1 shot wRomney"

@LarrySabato: Romney winning VA easily BUT some evidence Newt/Sant voters picked Paul to stop Mitt.

Ron Paul

@BorowitzReport: When Ron Paul says "Repeal the Fed" his fans act like Zeppelin fans hearing the opening chord of Stairway. #SuperTuesday

@FixAaron: Ron Paul is close to 40 percent in Virginia in early results. If he stays near that, he'll set a new personal high for percent of the vote.

@LOLGOP: Ron Paul will now undermine his anti-war message with economic incoherence and conspiracy theory. Take it away, Ron! #SuperTuesday