Twitter is getting into the candidate sentiment business, parsing the content of 2 million tweets a week to capture what the company calls the "nuances of public opinion" about the presidential hopefuls.
The newly launched Twitter Political Index offers a daily tally of Twitter users' "feelings" about President Obama and his presumptive Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, the company says.
"Each day, the Index evaluates and weighs the sentiment of Tweets mentioning Obama or Romney relative to the more than 400 million Tweets sent on all other topics. For example, a score of 73 for a candidate indicates that Tweets containing their name or account name are on average more positive than 73 percent of all Tweets," Adam Sharp, head of Government, News and Social Innovation for Twitter, said in a blog post. "It lends new insight into the feelings of the electorate, but is not intended to replace traditional polling -- rather, it reinforces it."
Twitter expects that the Index will give an indication of where the candidate polling numbers are heading, based on its crowdsourced data-set. Twitter is working with the social-data analysis company Topsy and two polling firms, Mellman Group and North Star Opinion Research, to calculate the Index sentiment results.
Topsy provides the sentiment analysis technology, which the company said delivers 90 percent concordance with human classification of the sentiments expressed in tweets.
"By illustrating instances when unprompted, natural conversation deviates from responses to specific survey questions, the Twitter Political Index helps capture the nuances of public opinion," Sharp wrote.
The Index is updated daily at 5 p.m. PT. In addition, Topsy is posting its analysis on the results and USA Today will be highlighting the Index in its publications.