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Using Twitter to Predict Politics: The NH Primary Politics

By Gareth Ham on January 12th 2012

The 2008 American election was a landmark in international politics, not only because of the cultural significance of the eventual winner but also because of the strong social media drive of the President’s campaign.

Although we’re not at the election stage proper, the primaries for the Republican candidacy are proving hugely exciting, especially now the budding candidates have wised up to the social media game.

The most recent Republican vote took place in the North Eastern State of New Hampshire. We took the opportunity to use the Brandwatch tool to track the Twitter buzz surrounding it: leading up to the event, during it and of course what eventually happened.

Before The Vote

In what must be a crushing disappointment to Jon Huntsman, his status as the highest TV ad spender did not result in much of a discussion about him online. Likewise, Ron Paul’s splashing of cash didn’t result in much conversation after the Iowa caucus was over.

Rick Santorum enjoyed a surge in standing after his surprise performance in Iowa, though Mitt Romney ended up consistently growing in popularity throughout the week as his followers continued to discuss his campaign.

During The Vote

Moving from a daily scale to an hourly one, this chart now shows the primary as it developed by the hour.

In line with media expectations, although Santorum was still buzzing from the Iowa vote for much of Saturday, the volume of mentions about him began to drop away as the New Hampshire election beckoned.

Ron Paul and Mitt Romney were neck and neck alongside Santorum on Saturday, but as Ricky dropped off, Paul also began to fade away and Romney began to dominate discussion by the start of the week.

The Battle for Second

By Tuesday it was abundantly clear that New Hampshire would be a one-horse race for Romney, so the battle for second place was on: an important platform for generating further support and funding moving forwards.

Incredibly, the volume of mentions of each candidate at just an hour before the polls closed was remarkably mirrored by the final results of the actual election. Not only were they ranked in the same order, but the percentages were also incredibly similar:

  • Ron Paul claimed second place with 23% of the vote and 21% of the tweet share
  • Jon Huntsman strolled into third place with 17% of the vote and 15% of tweets
  • Newt Gingrinch was next up, with a respectable 9% of the vote and 11% of tweets
  • The final significant runner was poor old Santorum, whose momentum really ran out of steam by Tuesday. Just behind Newt, he had 9% of the vote too with slightly less tweets about him too, at 10%.

This report is the second in a series observing and monitoring the American political elections of 2012. Please get in touch with us (Joel at if you’d like to get involved with our coverage in any way.

Gareth Ham


Gareth uses social media data to research public opinion, investigate campaigns and online polling data and work with clients on their owned media channels.

  • Anonymous

    Very interesting – look forward to seeing more social media analysis as the  campaign trial goes on