In the run-up to the New Hampshire primaries, each of the presidential candidates was pushing their views on Twitter hoping to drum up support. But what impact does this really have? We did a little digging using our very own Listening Post into what each candidate has been doing on Twitter to find out. And it seems that although Twitter is clearly a great avenue for broadcast, it has little effect in actually driving voting behavior.
Looking at the Republican battle, despite John Kasich being the top Tweeter among candidates with 100 tweets directly talking about New Hampshire, he only gained 427 votes per tweet, compared to the Republican winner Donald Trump who received 2497 votes per tweet.
For Democrats, it also seems that Twitter is not hugely influential with top Tweeter, Hillary Clinton, not coming out on top of the votes with only 2,062 votes per tweet compared to Bernie Sanders who got the nomination with 4,585 votes per tweet.
However, when you analyze the reaction and engagement on Twitter to the candidates, a slightly different picture emerges – one of quality over quantity amongst Republicans at least. Despite Kasich topping the charts with his quantity of tweets, the quality of engagement was off with an average of just 31,549 people reached per tweet for a total reach of 31,549,267, compared to the Republican winner Trump whose Tweets reached a total of nearly 652 million people, an average of over 17 million per tweet.
For Democrats, it seems there’s no correlation with Clinton reaching four times as many people (1.025 billion) on Twitter than Sanders (283.7 million) but receiving less than 39% of the vote.
These findings mirror those found by our partners Political Intelligence and university lecturer Mark Margaretten in the UK that Twitter and other social channels does not change people’s minds on who to vote for, but are excellent opportunities for engaging and educating the general public in the issues that matter to them.
So, similar to the discussion around candidate’s ad spend in Iowa, it looks like social engagement does not ultimately drive votes. But that’s not the reason for engaging on Twitter – it’s a fantastic medium for reaching and engaging with people, and giving the huge numbers of tweets and engagements, it’s clear that the presidential candidates have embraced it.