The South Carolina Primary has had a long history of
pinpointing the eventual Republican candidate, but Mitt Romney is crossing
fingers and toes that the streak stops in 2012.
His bitter loss in South Carolina came despite nearly
every polling projection promising him at least a 10 percent lead on Gingrich as
of Wednesday. But just minutes
after the debate on Thursday night, Twitter was hinting at a very different
outcome—one that ultimately proved more realistic at the polls.
Previously deemed the “inevitable” candidate, Romney took a
social media beating as critics took to Twitter to lodge their complaints with
the politician’s debate performance. According to OhMyGov analytics, Twitter was able to reveal a clearly anti-Romney
sentiment in the hours following Thursday’s debate.
In a random sampling of Twitter activity between the hours of 10 PM and midnight on Thursday, only 19 percent of tweets about Romney had something nice to
say while team Gingrich enjoyed a positive response nearly 43 percent of the
Major issues from the debate continued to influence the tone
of Tweets, revealing exactly what voters took away from that night’s event, and
what they’d carry with them to the polls.
“Mitt Romney shouldn’t deny that he uses offshore tax
dodges. It’s his only foreign policy experience,” read one Tweet, bringing up
the issue that most likely put the nail in the coffin.
Among Romney’s 63 percent of negative
responses, issues of taxes or flip-flopping were the most commonly cited
reasons, and a petition to have Romney release his tax filings was nearly a
Twitter users were clear in their message: Romney is losing
the trust of the American public, and it’s going to Gingrich instead.
Gingrich endured an unsurprising barrage of open-marriage
related swipes, but overall experienced an evenly matched positive to negative
ratio. Any political dissatisfaction the Twittersphere had with Gingrich in
the hours after the debate took a backseat to the scandal of Marianne
Gingrich’s strategic tell-all and Romney’s lower-than-the-middle-class tax
The importance of Thursday’s debate was made officially clear
in exit polls during the SC primary, which showed that a majority of voters -
53 percent - said they made up their mind about who to back within the last few
days, and that the debate played a major role in that decision.
media monitoring also revealed a spike in Gingrich’s Twitter followers in
the day following the CNN debate as new Twitter recruits caused the former
Speaker of the House to surge past the other Presidential candidates before a
single vote was cast. Yet all the
social media activity strongly hinted at one outcome: Newt Gingrich would be
the South Carolina Primary winner, not Romney. And thanks to Twitter, we also know why.
What is yet to be determined is whether the tradition lives
on, which only time and—apparently Twitter—will tell.