Twitter launches tool to gauge interest in political tweets

As Election Day nears, Twitter's new "Political Engagement Map" lets users see where people are most interested about specific issues -- at least as measured by tweeting patterns.

Daniel Terdiman Former Senior Writer / News
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
2 min read
Twitter's new political engagement map shows were people are tweeting most about leading political issues of the day. Twitter

Twitter today unveiled a Political Engagement Map, a tool that lets anyone see where people are tweeting most about specific political issues.

"We've built a visualization that illustrates people's reaction to and engagement by state to tweets from @MittRomney and @BarackObama," Miguel Rios of Twitter's analytics team wrote in a blog post. "While the Twitter Political Index analyzes Tweets about the candidates, [we've] also been studying how citizens interact with tweets from the candidates. We... want to see what insights you can glean from Twitter data, so this visualization is fully interactive."

To use the tool, users can type in a search term, and it quickly produces a map showing which states have the highest engagement level (and on which side of the political aisle) for tweets featuring the term posted by either President Barack Obama or his challenger, Mitt Romney.

On each side of the screen are bars, organized by engagement level, for tweets from both Obama and Romney. "The size of the bar indicates the level of engagement that tweet received," the blog post explained. "Hovering over the bar previews the tweet text, and clicking on it will show you the state by state engagement level. You can also search for specific terms to see tweets from @BarackObama and @MittRomney about the topics that matter most to you."

Twitter has become a major destination for people wanting to weigh in about the presidential election between Democrat Obama, and Republican Romney. For example, there were more than 10 million tweets about the first presidential debate last month, and millions more for each of the rest of the face-offs between the aspirants for the White House.