Past Mention Machines examined the GOP presidential candidates’ performance on the social web. But in recent weeks, another figure has emerged - someone who isn’t running for anything but who is likely to be a consistent presence on the political landscape for awhile: Warren Buffett’s secretary.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett introduced his secretary in August in a New York Times op-ed, saying others in his office paid a higher tax rate than he did. President Obama then codified the “Buffett Rule” in the economic plan he released earlier this month by saying: “No household making over $1 million annually should pay a smaller share of its income in taxes than middle-class families pay.”

The unnamed “secretary” has become a favorite political anecdote of the president’s in recent speeches. (Our Fact Checker blog took issue with Obama’s simplified rhetoric on the issue.)

So what does the Twitterverse have to say about the finanicial woes of the now-famous administrative professional and the theory she unwittingly embodies? Globalpoint Research, which specializes in analysis of politics on the social web, measured reactions on Twitter to the “Buffet rule.”

Between Sept. 18 and 24, Globalpoint analyzed the sentiment of tweets that included a mention of the Buffett Rule. The rule itself was mentioned 16,279 times; 25 percent of the time tweets contained positive sentiment, 51 percent of the time feelings toward the rule were neutral, and 24 percent of the time they were negative.

(Globalpoint Research)

Globalpoint also dug into the reasons behind the sentiment. The chart below contains the most common reasons for the positive and negative tweets. “Support” for the Buffet rule was the top positive inidicator, mentioned in 48 percent of the positive tweets, followed by 41 percent of people who indicated they felt it was fair to tax the rich.

More varied underlying reasons were revealed in tweets opposing the Buffett rule. Of those tweets with negative feelings toward the rule, 25 percent noted fear of the consequences, 24 percent said it the rule was too complicated. Eighteen percent of the tweets mentioned outright opposition to the Buffett rule, 17 percent indicated it was misleading and 16 percent of tweeters believed that the “Buffet Rule is a lie.”

(Globalpoint Research)

And you knew this was coming: Though there is no specific Buffett colleague who will claim they are the person Obama and Buffett references, the spoof Twitter handle @WBuffsecretary popped up this week to weigh in about adding her 30-or-so percent to the tax pie.

Facebook Fan counts

Inside Facebook this week published an election tool to track fans of candidates and elected officials. Here’s how they measured up:

House : Ron Paul (R-Texas): 527,398; Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.): 273,627; House Majority leader Eric Cantor (Va.) had the most fans of any House member not seeking the 2012 GOP presidential nomination: 123,405.

Senate: 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain (R-Ariz.) with 873,004. His closest competitors were Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) with 148,732 and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) with 112,036.

Governor: Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.): 471,806; followed by Bobby Jindal (R-La.): 131,306 and Jerry Brown (D-Calif.): 128,428.

Who tweets more, Republicans or Democrats?

More Congressional Republicans are on Twitter than Democrats, and 81 percent of House and Senate members now have Twitter accounts, according to the AP.

Help build the Mention Machine

We’re gathering all the tools we can to monitor what’s happening in social media and politics as we ramp up coverage of the 2012 campaign. Along with the new Facebook tool mentioned above, some of my favorite sites are GovSM, and

Do you know of other great resources we should be monitoring? Please share them in the comments or on Twitter using #MentionMachine.

Follow @MentionMachine to track the conversation around the 2012 presidential candidates and social media’s impact on the election.


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