Twitter says it has developed a way to measure how its users feel about the presidential candidates, drawing on the nearly 2 million weekly posts on the micro-blogging site about President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
The company joined forces with the data analysis firm Topsy and two campaign pollsters--Democrat Mark Mellman and Republican Jon McHenry--to launch the new Twitter Political Index, which it says "evaluates and weighs the sentiment of tweets mentioning Obama or Romney relative to the more than 400 million tweets sent on all other topics" each day.
The effort is designed to supplement conventional ways of measuring public opinion, Twitter says, and is not a replacement. But as the political survey research industry is confronting unprecedented challenges, many are looking to non-survey approaches to fill the gaps.
As a starting point, I would like to state that I am a big fan of Twitter. I utilize it to promote this site, and it serves as one of my preferred sources of breaking news. And I appreciate the bi-partisan nature of this effort.
However, with all of the snark, innuendo, text speak, the age and political leanings of its typical users and the 're-tweeting does not equal endorsements' as well as the 140-character compression that defines the site, I have a hard time seeing the value in this gauge. That doesn't mean that I won't quote TwIndex numbers as November approaches. Mea culpa...