The Twitter Political Index, launched by the microblogging site on Wednesday, will offer a daily measure of how users are feeling about President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney culled from millions of tweets.
Twitter has partnered with data analysts at Topsy and with pollsters from The Mellman Group and Northstar Opinion Research. Combining more traditional tools with the power of social media, the index aims to augment public opinion data, not act as a replacement for traditional polling, the company noted in a blog post announcing the launch.
“Each day, the Index evaluates and weighs the sentiment of Tweets mentioning Obama or Romney relative to the more than 400 million Tweets sent on all other topics,” Twitter’s Adam Sharp explained in the post. “For example, a score of 73 for a candidate indicates that Tweets containing their name or account name are on average more positive than 73 percent of all Tweets.”
Obama opened the index with a score of 34, while Romney had a score of 25. The numbers were based on tweets sent throughout the day Tuesday and suggest tweets about the president are slightly more positive than tweets mentioning Romney.
Sharp notes that the trend in Twitter Political Index scores for Obama over the past two years closely reflects the movement in the president’s approval ratings as measured by Gallup. Twitter’s blog links to a Topsy graphic visualizing how closely the two measures track over the past two years.
The Index will be updated daily at 8 p.m.