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VISUALIZATION: Social Data Reveals the Most Memorable GOP Convention Moments Analytics, Data Visualization, In the News, Social, , , , , ,

Over the past week, social media monitoring software has really come into its own as a serious tool for the media and political analysis. For the first time, lots of people were monitoring instantaneous changes in public reaction from the speeches, looking at metrics like tweets-per-minute through real-time charting tools like this one from Flowics.

The sheer amount of information that comes from these tools is a godsend, but without context they can fall short. A read on social media sentiment associated with Mitt Romney throughout the convention may not tell us very much. And touting the fact that @BarackObama’s “This seat’s taken” tweet was the second most retweeted in Twitter history doesn’t tell us very much about how those not on Twitter reacted to Clint Eastwood’s speech.

So, we decided to do a little bit more digging to see if we could find something more meaningful and actionable.

We wanted to quantify online reaction to each of the major RNC speakers in a way that might reflect the offline audience response. So, we avoided looking at general commentary on Romney or the convention — but rather at which speech content. Chances are if you’ve tweeted a line from a speech, you strongly approve of it or think it was significant. We wanted to see which speech lines “tested” the best based on social mentions, leaving the deepest impressions with audiences online and off.

We’ve collected the results in a treemap visualization that’s broken down along three dimensions: The most-mentioned speech lines grouped by speaker, total mentions of the speaker, and mentions of the speaker with the word “awesome.” All numbers reflect activity on the day of the speech.

The results are interesting, and defy conventional wisdom in places. Despite the political elite’s queasy reaction to Clint Eastwood’s offbeat appearance, he delivered the buzziest line of the Convention, “We own this country,” followed by “Politicians are employees of ours.” Among those expressing an opinion, reaction to this passage was about three-fourths favorable. Eastwood’s other top lines hailed from the parts of his speech that were well received in the hall, and saw virtually no negative reaction online. And Eastwood led all speakers in eliciting a reaction of “Awesome” from social media users.

Here are the ten most memorable lines we found from the 2012 GOP convention, ranked by social media mentions provided by Topsy:

  1. “I would just like to say something, ladies and gentlemen. Something that I think is very important. It is that, you, we — we own this country.” – Clint Eastwood, 6947 mentions
  2. “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise…is to help you and your family.” – Mitt Romney, 5890 mentions
  3. “The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it.” – Paul Ryan, 5,363 mentions
  4. “Real leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls.” – Chris Christie, 5259 mentions
  5. “College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.” – Paul Ryan, 4,395 mentions
  6. “Politicians are employees of ours.” – Clint Eastwood, 3,657 mentions
  7. “When the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American.” – Mitt Romney, 3,386 mentions
  8. “They believe in teacher’s unions. We believe in teachers.” – Chris Christie, 3,045 mentions
  9. “Let’s get this done.” – Paul Ryan, 2,744 mentions
  10. “I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there is 23 million unemployed people in this country.” – Clint Eastwood, 2,673 mentions

Watch this space this week for a similar analysis of the Democratic Convention in Charlotte!

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