Presidential Campaign Social Media Checkup. Part 2 of 3: Barack Obama

by politicalthing

This blog was originally published on the Radian6 website on July 3, 2012. I’m posting it here for posterity.

The presidential primary season is over, Mitt Romney is the “unofficial” GOP nominee, and the summer campaign season with the inevitable fried-food gaffes is set to begin.

What kind of buzz are the two candidates generating at this period of transition? Wednesday I looked at Mitt Romney; today I take a look at President Obama.

All the President’s Numbers

Going back 30 days from June 26 Barack Obama has generated 9.5 million social media mentions.  This obviously dwarfs the 3.5 million mentions generated by the Romney campaign. It is important to note that, as President, Obama’s every word and move is news, and therefore captures more attention than any other politician in the United States. The line between Obama “governing” and Obama “campaigning” is necessarily blurred.

The White House is the largest political podium in the United States, and indeed, the world. These numbers provide insight into how large a podium the individual working from the Oval Office has on social media.

Does Social Media Lean to the Left?

After publishing my blog Wednesday I had an interesting conversation with a colleague as to whether or not social media defaults to the left of the political spectrum. Citing the fact that the largest spike in conversation for the Romney campaign resulted from the “Amercia” gaffe, as well as the overwhelmingly negative sentiment graph, the evidence seemed to support that hypothesis.

However, automated sentiment analysis of the social media mentions related to Barack Obama shows the same negative trend.

If both Obama and Romney mentions trend negative what feeds the impression that social media trends to the left (or right) of the political spectrum? I would suggest that those impressions are gleaned from personal bias and the online communities people associate with.

The evidence gleaned from automated sentiment doesn’t seem to support the suggestion that social media carries an inherent political bias. What it says about the general impression people on social media have of politicians in general may be another story.