What Can Twitter Tell Us About the Election?

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Joe Miller, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, walks with supporters in Anchorage, Alaska

John Moore/Getty Images

First we should note that Twitter users may not be reflective of the populace as a whole, and also that the 140 character limit does not len—

NewsFeed has been going gaga over the New York Times interactive chart of the Twitter activity of various candidates in today’s midterms. Aesthetically it’s a doozy, with candidates shooting off and absorbing tweets like they’re in some sort of bacterial version of Battlestar Galactica. But what does it tell us?

Twitter activity is not automatically a good thing. Comparing Rand Paul and Jack Conway, we can see Paul’s account swell to amazing heights of activity — but those peaks are mainly due to the flood of incoming tweets whenever Paul is involved in a media scandal. We’d venture that having your supporters stomp on someone’s head is not a fool-proof campaign strategy.

See more on TIME.com: The 2010 races to watch

Steady (but not slow) wins the social media race. Looking at Harry Reid and Sharron Angle, note that Reid shows intense flurries of activity whenever there’s a news event, firing off barrages of tweets before laying dormant. Angle tweets much more consistently. We wouldn’t presume to say that’s why she’s ahead — it’s probably more to do with the Nevada economy — but we don’t think it hurts.

Having a lot of followers on Twitter won’t win you an election. The two largest Twitter pies on the New York Times chart? Joe Miller (who may lose to a write-in Lisa Murkowski campaign) and Christine O’Donnell (who was down 10 points in the latest polls and will almost certainly lose to Chris Coons.) Twitter, it seems, has not yet had its Nixon-Kennedy moment in the spotlight. (via The New York Times)

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