Computer Science Students Look to Twitter for Clues on Election

Polls currently show a tight race between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. While traditional polls survey several thousand people over a couple of days, a new research project by computer science students at MIT and the University of Chicago takes a new look at voter sentiment by analyzing the sentiments of social media users on Twitter.
The site, called TwiThinks, is currently tracking how many times each candidate is mentioned on each day in each state, what topics people are tweeting about when they mention a candidate, the latest election news from Twitter users, and nation-wide publicity for each candidate. Approximately 10 million American Twitter users are included in the analysis.

Kang Zhang, a computer science student who is currently working on research with Professor and CSAIL Principal Investigator Hal Abelson, explained that the TwiThinks system takes a look at the information that can be inferred from studying the collective wisdom of a large crowd of people.

“We track political conversations of millions of U.S. Twitter users and show a comprehensive view of the publicity of each presidential candidate on Twitter,” said Zhang.  

Zhang does caution that Twitter publicity does not directly reflect voting behavior.
For more information on TwiThinks, check out or check out the interactive visualization below.

Abby Abazorius, CSAIL