Twitter: The Real Winner of the US Elections

As the dust settles on another whirlwind US election campaign, commentators look back at an event which not only made history in terms of American politics but also in terms of social networking.  “The US Elections will go down in the history books as the first real social media elections.” said political editor for The Independent, Andrew Grice, in an interview with Bournemouth University’s News Lab.

On Nov 7, Twitter spokesperson Rachel Horwitz announced that the 31 million tweets made on US election night made it the most tweeted about event in history. Thus surpassing the previous record of 10 million, set during the first presidential debate back in October.

Moreover, at the point that Barack Obama was declared to have won re-election, Twitter use surged to around 327,452 tweets per minute, around eight times the average.

The President’s twitter page currently has an astounding 23.2 million followers, thus making him more popular than global megastars Britney Spears and Taylor Swift who currently boast less followers.

President Obama’s victory tweet, a picture of himself hugging his wife Michelle with the text “Four More Years”, became the most popular tweet ever on Tuesday night having received over 800,000 retweets and almost 300,000 favourites.

Mr Grice also said that “all the British political parties have a lot to learn from the experience and quite a lot work to do make sure they fully exploit social media.”

The extent to which the use of Twitter penetrated the events of election night truly demonstrates what a powerful political tool the social networking site really is.

During the course of the day, Twitter was used in varying forms in order to communicate with the electorate on many different issues.

As queues stretched round blocks in important swing states such as Florida, the Democrats started a twitter campaign in order to encourage voters to ‘Stay in the Line’. The Guardian reported that voters at the South Kendall Community Church in Miami waited for over five hours to place their important votes therefore the twitter campaign directly targeted these dissatisfied voters.

The ‘Stay in the Line’ campaign, tweeted from Obama’s account, received over 10,000 retweets and arguably played an important part in encouraging voters to continue waiting and place their swing state votes.

American businessman Donald Trump gave a fiery response to Tuesday evenings eventual result. Mr Trump, an outspoken opponent to Barack Obama, expressed his dissatisfaction as well as criticized the Republican party for not taking advantage of the obvious opportunity for victory.

Trump tweeted to his modest 1.9 million followers “This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not democracy” thus receiving over 13,000 retweets as his outburst went viral across the twitter sphere.

Mr Trump, clearly with a vested interest in the US economy also tweeted “The stock market and the US dollar are both plunging today. Welcome to Barack Obama’s second term.”

The extent to which the use of Twitter had an effect on the events of election night demonstrates how far it has penetrated not only into the lives of its users but also into the workings of modern politics and news making.

Ever since its creation in March 2006, Twitter has enjoyed remarkable success and the creators will now surely be hoping for four more years of the same.

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