PA Times article on the use of social media during the 2012 election

I wrote up a short piece about the impact of social media in the 2012 election. It will come out in print this month and I wanted to share it here as well.

Will the ‘Real Romney’ please stand up?!

Tonight, Maxwell School’s Campbell Institute hosted journalist Michael Kranish, The Boston Globe, and author of “Real Romney” as part of the State of Democracy lecture series.

The expectation of many audience members was to get a behind-the-scene view of presidential candidate Romney by an insider who has researched and covered him for over 18 years for The Boston Globe.

Kranish is a great story teller, a diligent researcher: For this book, he and his coauthor followed Romney’s career during the last 18 years, interviewed his business partners to understand how the candidate’s environment, upbringing, religious context, business experience at Bain Capital have shaped his political decision making.

After his introductory lecture, Kranish was asked several times – in different ways – who the real Mitt Romney is, how his status in the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the local “bishop” will shape his decision making as a potential president. Kranish did not provide a response directly to the question, instead quoted Romney with: “I want to be a Mormon who runs for presidency, and not a mormon president.” Earlier although he did hint at the fact that Romney had said several times, that his faith has shaped who he is today and that it is a large part of himself as a person.

Besides the Mormon faith, Romney’s sense of the middle-class, or “the poor” were questioned, but not transcribed in the attached list of tweets: Kranish talked a lot about Romney’s success at Bain Capital, an investment firm created as a spin-off from Bain Consulting, that was created to invest rich investors’ money into companies and sell the companies at a profit. Kranish reports, that Romney personally must have made ~ $25-30 million in profits when he sold Staples after consolidating the company. The Boston Globe reviewed ~100 transactions during Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital and – you make the math – traced Romney’s share of the profits. Again, not a straight answer to the question wether Romney is able to understand those part of the society who are not able to make millions of dollars per year. Kranish pointed to the experiences that shape a politicians life which will provide the context in which he might most likely make decisions in the future.

Overall, many questions were unanswered, especially because Kranish’ did not draw any conclusions from his research and did not want to provide theories through his personal lens.

Here is a list of tweets transcribing and commenting on the author’s lecture in chronological order:

@Twitter Political Index

The next 100 days count – and Twitter is counting our sentiments and online interactions to gauge the potential outcome of the presidential campaign in the U.S.: Today, Twitter launched a new site called the Twitter Political Index. According to the Twitter blog, the @gov team is analyzing the +2 million tweets every week to understand how the nation’s Twitter users feel about President Obama and his challenger Romney.

The index represents:

a daily measurement of Twitter users’ feelings towards the candidates as expressed in nearly two million Tweets each week.

Twitter teams up with USAToday’s election team and Topsy to display the sentiment results in the newspaper’s Election Meter. The sentiments are measured on a 0 to 100 scale and everything above 50 is coded as positive sentiment. A sliding scale lets users go back in time and shows sentiments including their related historical events (such as important visits, or speeches):

Adam Sharp, Twitter’s head of news and social innovation (@gov), shared some of the ideas and analysis mechanisms on NYT’s Timescast on August 2. Asked how Twindex represents the American public, he responded on Twitter:

 

I was interviewed for our local channel 9 News to talk about #Twindex: PollstePollsters using social media sites to gauge popularity of candidatesrs

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