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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

February 3, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Twitter is critical for #Nevada caucuses and future of #GOP presidential race

The way candidates win elections hasn’t changed in centuries: shaking hands, kissing babies, and showing voters that you’re a normal person, just like them. But now technology has caught up to the horse race. If you want to win, you better send a tweet.

The media giant Twitter wasn’t popular enough to be included in the 2008 election cycle. But four years later it’s not just a critical tool being used by every candidate, it will also be announcing the winner of the Nevada Republican Party caucuses.

The Nevada GOP announced in a statement earlier this week that they would be partnering with Twitter and Google to release the results of the caucuses on Saturday.  This will be the first time Twitter is used to announce election results and the second time for Google, which was used to track the Iowa caucuses as well.

The results will be coming in through two feeds: @NVGOP will be tweeting statewide vote totals and news, while @NVVoteCount will be tweeting results from each precinct as they become available. The official results from legacy news outlets like the Associated Press may be a few minutes behind, but they’ll be checked for accuracy along the way.

More than 2,000 individual precincts are expected to report via this method. But this shouldn’t be too hard to manage for the media site that boasted over 200 million tweets a day from over 1 million users as of August 2011.

Adam Sharp (@AdamS), Manager of Government & Politics at Twitter, said his company is revolutionizing how people get information.

“Twitter is at its core a real-time information network, where users go to instantly connect to information that’s meaningful to them,” Sharp said in an email interview. “An election or caucus night is one of those purest moments when voters are glued to that kind of real-time stream to find the answer to a basic question: ‘who won?’  So it really is a perfect match.”

The decision to announce caucus results using Twitter was made by Nevada Republican Party Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian (@mrst106) and staff after discussions over the past few months.

“We wanted to provide Nevadans with a new and innovative way to access caucus results,” said David Gallagher, Nevada’s Republican Party executive director, also via email. “Twitter allows interested folks to get the results delivered directly to them in real time.”

Gallagher (@DMGgally) said that delivering the results this way allowed the party to tap into new media while still allowing traditional news outlets to get the information they needed. The most important factor in the decision was delivering the results in the most efficient manner possible.

The importance of Twitter in this election predates the Nevada caucus. Over the summer Politico posted an article addressing which candidate had the best Twitter feed and its being called a critical tool in the Republican campaign.

Overall, Americans seem to want to see their next President using social networking sites. According to the Pew Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 31% of adults use social tools such as blogs and networking sites. President Barack Obama has a twitter account, and he signs the ones he writes “BO.” He held a Google+ town hall earlier this week.

Sharp expects to see Twitter’s role grow even more through this election, saying that voters can use the site to be more informed and interact directly with candidates from their home, office or mobile device.

“With Twitter, engaged candidates are able to create that direct contact with voters again, in a more scalable way,” said Sharp, “This potential sets the stage for 2012 to be the Twitter Election.”

Comments | Topics: Election 2012, Nevada, Nevada GOP


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