Social Media Monitoring and Sentiment analysis of Romney vs. Obama 2012 first presidential debate

Presidential seal
Presidential seal (Photo credit: Scott Adams)

Note: This post and the charts will be updated throughout the evening. Come back often for more recent details.

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were relatively close in number of Google News searches, which is an indicator of social reach on online media. This conclusion is supported by analysis of Google Trends data. The chart below depicts the relative weight of Obama vs. Romney searches compared to the highest volume of search activity on the Google News site for both terms. Google News aggregates information for thousands of new sources from throughout the world.

The online desirability of the Obama term is, however, higher in simple web searches. Web users have been searching the term “Obama” much more frequently than “Romney.” In the past, the difference in terms of Google searches has been used as a rudimentary indication of popularity/ electability. In 2008, Obama had a clear head start in Google Searches throughout the entire presidential campaign.


These trends seem to be in tune with those captured by tracking polls, such as those published by Real and Clear Politics, in which Obama leads the race.

Social Mention, a site that aggregates information from Social Media, indicates that social media status updates, tweets, etc. were more positive about Obama than about Romney on October 3, at 2 PM, EST, just a few hours before the first debate. “Sentiment” analysis, which looks at the adjectives and phrases associated with Twitter terms, indicated that there were 10 positive for one negative comment about Obama, compared to 2 to 1 for Romney. At the same time, there were more unique authors that commented about Romney (151 vs. 123) and there were more “neutral” comments for Obama than for Romney.

Another social media monitoring tool, Twazzup, indicates that more people were tweeting about Obama than about Romney right before the debate. At 2 PM on 10/03 there were 11000 tweets per hour including the term “Obama“, for 9500 including the term Romney. (After you click the links, look at the TPH, tweets per hour, number in the upper right corner of the page. Numbers change from minute to minute, so the numbers you see online might not reflect the numbers mentioned here. The numbers you see are very interesting, however, since they reflect in real time the popularity of each term on Twitter).

Debate location, University of Denver


Sorin Adam Matei

Sorin Adam Matei - Professor of Communication at Purdue University - studies the relationship between information technology and social groups. He published papers and articles in Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Information Society, and Foreign Policy. He is the author or co-editor of several books. The most recent is Structural differentation in social media. He also co-edited Ethical Reasoning in Big Data,Transparency in social media and Roles, Trust, and Reputation in Social Media Knowledge Markets: Theory and Methods (Computational Social Sciences) , all three the product of the NSF funded KredibleNet project. Dr. Matei's teaching portfolio includes online interaction, and online community analytics and development classes. His teaching makes use of a number of software platforms he has codeveloped, such as Visible Effort . Dr. Matei is also known for his media work. He is a former BBC World Service journalist whose contributions have been published in Esquire and several leading Romanian newspapers. In Romania, he is known for his books Boierii Mintii (The Mind Boyars), Idolii forului (Idols of the forum), and Idei de schimb (Spare ideas).

4 thoughts on “Social Media Monitoring and Sentiment analysis of Romney vs. Obama 2012 first presidential debate

Leave a Reply to Sorin A Matei Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *