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PEJ: Presidential Campaign Tweets More Opinionated, Negative Than Blogs

Tweets about the presidential campaign are more opinionated and negative than blogs, Ron Paul gets the most favorable treatment in the Twittersphere and Herman Cain has been the most tweeted-about Republican candidate.

Those are some of the findings of a Project for Excellence in Journalism study that looked at "Twitter and the Campaign" that examined over 20 million tweets over a little more than six months from May 2-Nov. 27.

"One distinguishing factor about the campaign discourse on Twitter is that it is more intensely opinionated, and less neutral, than in both blogs and news," said the study, explaining that the tweets it vetted "contain a smaller percentage of statements about candidates that are simply factual in nature without reflecting positively or negatively on a candidate."

Cain was the subject of 2,171,223 tweets, with Romney next at 1,590,725. Ron Paul was in fifth place among Republicans at 1,121,929, with currently poll leader Newt Gingrich next at 590,797.

The political discussion on Twitter fluctuates more with events, the study found, while bloggers seem to have made up their minds and the tone about candidates does not shift as much.

The Twitter sample is drawn from Twitter Firehose data, which PEJ said included all public tweets, or some 140 million per day, from which were analyzed all those that "directly addressed" the 2012 presidential campaign. The universe of blogs is the hundreds of thousands tracked by company Crimson Hexagon.

According to the study, 55% of the tweets about Ron Paul were positive, the highest of any candidate, while 15% were negative, the lowest of any candidate. Paul was also the most favorably commented on in blogs.

The study did not find that tweets were coming from the canary in the mine shaft, as it were. "The findings suggest that neither Twitter nor blogs function in general as a form of vox populi that either reflects or anticipates changes in public mood....Sometimes these social media move with polls, but often they do not."