December 8, 2011

Twitter and the Campaign

Update: Candidate Blog Conversation

If the last seven weeks have been a period in which news coverage was generally more negative for most candidates, the conversation on blogs shows the same basic trends. There, Perry and Cain have been the subject of increasingly negative attention, and Gingrich has seen some modest gains in the number of positive statements about him.

Gingrich is the candidate who has received the highest percentage of negative opinions in the blogosphere so far in this campaign, and those negative statements about him have outnumbered positive ones by more than for any other candidate. That situation has not materially changed in the last six weeks since he began to rise in the polls.

If anything, Gingrich has had a better stretch in news coverage during this period than in blogs. The best Gingrich can say is that in each of the last four weeks, negative statements by bloggers about him outnumbered positive ones by less than 30 points, something that happened only once in the previous 26 weeks.

If Gingrich is going to win the nomination, he will either do it despite the overall narrative about him in blogs, or he will have to change that narrative.

By contrast, Perry experienced his most difficult stretch in the blogosphere in the last seven weeks. Each week negative statements about him exceeded positives by at least 31 points, a witheringly clear cut narrative.

For Cain, who had enjoyed 26 straight weeks in which bloggers were either more positive or mixed about him, the last month has been a different and difficult time. Negative statements among bloggers about the businessman politician have outnumbered positive every week by at least eight points. That trend started October 31, the day after Politico broke the first story containing allegations of sexual harassment.

While the old and new media behave differently, in other words, there are clear instances in which they interrelate and social media amplify the narrative of the news.

The blogosphere does not always follow news coverage. Ron Paul’s social media narrative stands apart from the one about him in the news.

For Cain, as with Perry, however, the news and the blogosphere were connected. Tough coverage in the news translated into a more difficult conversation about them in social media, both in blogs and in Twitter.

One significant difference among social media platforms is how blogs and Twitter have treated one other candidate, however-Romney. While the narrative on Twitter has been more negative than positive by a 2-1 margin, in blogs it is mixed (split among 33% positive, 35% negative, 32% neutral).

In the case of Romney, blogs and news coverage resemble each other, while Twitter is a different conversation.