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Twitter: Now Giving You Presidential Popularity Contests, Maybe Useful Polling Data?

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Published on Aug 2, 2012

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Forget regular polling—now you can judge the fate of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney with the Twindex.

The social media company's Twitter Political Index uses algorithms to take the temperature of its massive flow of data in real time, and come up with a day-to-day ranking of the presidential candidates.

For traditional polling help, Twitter enlisted the aid of left-leaning Mellman Group and right-leaning NorthStar Opinion Research—but the social media giant's real goal is to be faster and more accurate on voter opinions than traditional polling. The new tool uses volume measurements and something called a sentiment analysis to judge how positive or negative a tweet about a candidate is, to determine a score.

In 2008, Election Day gave twitter its biggest spurt of traffic—1.8 million tweets. Now that many 140-character quips are sent every 6 minutes, and just this week, Twitter crossed the 500-million global user benchmark. But do tweets give us an accurate picture of voters? We'll know on Nov. 7.

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