We the Tweeple: Twitter and the 2012 Presidential Election

Written by: Allison Hibbs

“I really think 2012 is going to be the Twitter election.”

That’s what Dick Costolo, CEO of the social media giant, told attendees at a tech conference in California in late January; although the same words might have been uttered by any avid Twitter user who has followed political conversations on the website during the onslaught of GOP debates or the recent State of the Union address leading up to the 2012 Presidential election. Commentary, discussion, fact-checking and ideological rants have flooded the site during these events, involving participants in an interactive political conversation reminiscent of a no-holds-barred town hall brawl.

In fact, among twitterers, trending conversations have often proven to be far more popular than the actual events themselves, a sentiment repeated often during the debates in particular – and with more than a hint of irony.

Twitter appreciation from tweeps during GOP debate on 1/26/12.

Tweets range from inane to insightful, from snarky insults to eloquently phrased questions or impassioned pleas. Anyone looking to get in on the action simply has to add the right hash-tagged phrase to his or her comment to be included in the thread. Keeping up with comments in the heat of the moment becomes nearly impossible, but one has only to go back to the thread when they have time and they can read up on what was said, follow links to related news stories, check the integrity of comments made by those on stage during the event or simply laugh at the more humorous tweets.

During the CNN Debate hosted by John King, opening comments made by Newt Gingrich blasting King for opening with a question about his personal life were widely ridiculed and reposted by active tweeters. While the audience seemed to appreciate his indignation, the twitterverse was not as kind.

1/19/12 CNN debate/ Begala tweet re: Gingrich

It is fairly common knowledge – at least among those familiar with the social medium – that the use of the Twitter platform was an advantage to the Obama camp during the 2008 election cycle: he received far more mentions than his opponent and a disproportionate number of Twitter users identified themselves as democrats. (This doesn’t take into account the number of tweets regarding Republican vice-presidential hopeful, Sarah Palin, who received a large amount of mentions – most of which were unfavorable.) But Twitter has gained significant numbers over the last four years and Republican politicians have increasingly taken to using the platform for their own messaging and organizational purposes. GOP presidential hopefuls employ staff members to follow the tweets during their appearances to find out which topics they are concerned with and which personality attributes or answers they prefer. There is, unquestionably, much to be learned from immediate feedback and they intend to take it to heart.

From the look of it, however, they’ve got a lot of catching up to do if they want to turn the advantage in their favor. During the President’s State of the Union address on Jan. 24, tweets were significantly less scathing and more topically relevant than those posted during the debates. Twitter users still seem to skew further to the left of the aisle than the general public.

Tweets re: GOP debate vs. SOTU

Nevertheless, Twitter has – if nothing else – had the effect of combating political apathy and has brought the public political debate to a whole new level. Those who are chagrined when barred from political discussion in social forums have now found an outlet through which they can share ideas, facts, emotions and hopes – in the hopes of staying informed, sharing information and influencing election outcomes, presidential or otherwise. A new era in politics has indeed arrived.

Welcome to Election 2012, the Year of Twitter.

2012 Iowa Caucus Results in a Draw

Romney Wins Iowa Caucus

Former Gov. Mitt Romney celebrating after his narrow win over Senator Rick Santorum in the Iowa Caucuses.

2012 Iowa Caucuses Result in a Draw

Mitt Romney Defeats Rick Santorum by only 8 votes.

Written by Agathe Panaretos. For what many saw as a chance for the Republican Party to narrow its field of possible presidential candidates, Tuesday’s caucuses in Iowa resulted in a near-tie between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

The final results of the caucuses held last Tuesday have the former governor winning by the slimmest of margins, with a total of 30,015 votes over Santorum’s total of 30,007.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who many anticipated would be a dark horse in the upcoming primaries, finished in third with 26,219 votes.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry finished in fifth and sixth place, respectively. Native Iowan and Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann finished last, pulling in 6,073 votes. Failing to win a single county in the state, Bachmann later withdrew her candidacy following the results on Wednesday morning.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman skipped the caucus in order to spend time campaigning in New Hampshire, whose primary is to be held on January 10.

Santorum, who up until the last week had remained near the bottom of the polls, was the latest candidate to experience a surge of support in an ongoing rollercoaster of viable contenders. While promising, his close finish in Iowa further demonstrates Republican voters’ dissatisfaction with the current crop of contenders.

A common theme among exit polls conducted throughout the state reveal voters have little faith in Santorum’s chances of beating President Obama in the November election. Thirty-one percent of voters named the ability to defeat the current President as the most important quality in choosing which candidate to support; of that percentage, only thirteen percent picked Santorum.

The Iowa Caucus is the first real litmus test in measuring a candidate’s potential of becoming the Republican nominee for President. While a poor showing in the state can quickly lead a campaign to its knees, a positive performance does not always translate to a successful bid on the national level. Of the past five Republican Caucuses held with multiple candidates, only two (Bob Dole in 1996 and George W. Bush in 2000) have gone on to win the Republican nomination.

With only a few days left before the New Hampshire primary, the remaining candidates will likely focus their campaigns on one target: Mitt Romney. The former governor has maintained a steady following throughout the campaign and overwhelming financial support, spending over $17 million since January 2011. With a win in New Hampshire, Republican voters may finally accept Mitt Romney as the clear winner.

Short-sighted Republicans May Lose the Latin Vote Over Arizona’s Immigration Law

They probably won't vote Republican ever again

Despite the popularity with the base Republicans, the parties leaders are starting to see how Arizona’s immigration law could really hurt the GOP‘s hispanic vote. Even the Republicans heading heavily Hispanic states – like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Rick Perry – are expressing their criticisms as they call the law overreaching.

Those thinking long-term are worried that the drastic immigration law is just a quick political fix that may backfire as an enormous divergence between the expanding hispanic electorate, and the GOP. According to Matthew Dowd, George W. Bush’s chief strategist back in 2004, said that it’s impossible to win a national election without

Without documentation, citizens are aliens

the Latino vote, which is something the Republicans already had trouble with during previous attempts to penetrate the White House. Other members of the party concur as the express their concerns with the short-sighted decision. Karl Rove came to grips with the possibility of the bill having some constitutional problems; Rick Perry (of Texas) asserts that he has issues with the bill, which wouldn’t be a great idea in Texas; and even Jeb Bush was quoted saying: “I don’t think this is the proper approach.”

Nevertheless, the short-sighted law is popular with voters; however, ninety percent of Hispanics are not of legal age to vote in Arizona.

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Could Spell Bad Things for Both Democrats and Republicans

The fight against oil continues in the Gulf of Mexico

The rapidly-expanding oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has put pressure on the White House to pacify the public by proving Obama has reconsidered off-shore drilling, and that he will not proceed with developing the industry until the accident is fully reviewed. But, the pressure is more bipartisan than American government itself, as both the Democrats and Republicans try not to get themselves dirty, dealing with the oily mess.

Democrats and environments present the spill as enough evidence for Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla) to suggest that the slightest notion of expanding off-shore drilling will be shot dead once it arrives on

Bipartisan suffering brings them together

Capitol Hill. And, surprisingly enough, the quick-to-critique Republicans haven’t said a word – even though the White House took nine days before taking action. It seems that their presidential motto “drill baby drill” has scared them into silence, and finally persuaded them to shut up.

Several Republicans still expressed support for domestic drilling on Friday, alongside the president himself, who admitted that his position did not change regarding offshore drilling as a substitute for offshore supplies. And with people quoting him for stating that “Oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills,” he might have to be just as worried as his friends across the aisle.

Ladies and Gentleman of American government, stop pointing at each other and get something done. For once in your lives save something – accomplish something: perform on behalf of the greater good, and not for mere political perpetuation.

Republicans and Obama Discuss the Courts, while the Democrats Tire of Republican Filibuster

Obama isn't too stressed about a face-to-face with Republicans

This Wednesday, Senate Republicans will have their chance to speak with Obama about his reconfiguration of the US court system. He is scheduled to meet for a discussion concerning a replacement for Justice John Paul Stevens‘ when he retires by the close of the current term.Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (Kentucky), Senator Jeff Sessions (Alabama) – the Senate Judiciary Committee‘s top Republican Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and also Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) – who is also the chairman of the Judiciary Committee,are planning to be in attendance at this important meeting. Leahy has recently stood up against the Republican threat to filibuster any nominee whom they deem a “judicial activist,” and soon he may have significant grounds to support his dissent.

Chairman of the Judiciary Committee

This Thursday, the Senate Rules Committee will hold a discussion on the history of the filibuster. Democratic Lawmakers seek a means of restricting this government tactic that they feel the GOP has been abusing for the past 15 months. Groups of academics and experts alike also plan on speaking about the historical use of the filibuster during the hearing; however, since the Democrats only hold 59 seats, they need to develop a firm strategy for gaining the 67 votes needed for the essential dissolution of the filibuster.

Divorce Agreement by John J. Wall

Got this email and thought i should share it. Here is a young student’s take on Americas divided parties.

Democrats and Republicans Divorce Agreement

Democrats and Republicans head to head

Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al:

We have stuck together since the late 1950’s or the sake of the kids, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce…. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has clearly run its course.

Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right for us all, so let’s just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way.

Here is a model separation agreement:

Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a similar portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

We don’t like redistributive taxes so you can keep them. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU. Since you hate guns and war, we’ll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military.  We’ll take the nasty, smelly oil industry and you can go with wind, solar and biodiesel.  You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O’Donnell (You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them).

We’ll keep capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street. You can have your beloved lifelong welfare dwellers, food stamps, homeless, homeboys, hippies, druggies and illegal aliens. We’ll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO’s and rednecks. We’ll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood .

You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we’ll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us. You can have the peaceniks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we’ll help provide them security.

We’ll keep our Judeo-Christian values.. You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism, political correctness and Shirley McClain. You can also have the U.N.. but we will no longer be paying the bill.

We’ll keep the SUV’s, pickup trucks and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find.

You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors. We’ll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury and not a right.  We’ll keep The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the National Anthem. I’m sure you’ll be happy to substitute Imagine, I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing, Kum Ba Ya or We Are the World.

We’ll practice trickle down economics and you can continue to give trickle up poverty your best shot.

Since it often so offends you, we’ll keep our history, our name and our flag.

Would you agree to this?  If so, please pass it along to other like minded liberal and conservative patriots and if you do not agree, just hit delete. In the spirit of friendly parting, I’ll bet you Answer which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.

John J. Wall
Law Student and an American

P. S. Also, please take Ted Turner, Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Barbara Streisand, & Jane Fonda with you.

P. S. S. And you won’t have to press 1 for English when you call our country.