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What does Ohio think of Obama? Twitter map offers glimpses of insight

Twitter logo is displayed at the entrance of Twitter headquarters in San Francisco on March 11, 2011 in California. (Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images)

Twitter on Thursday published a map that filters the firehose of information that comes out of the service into a tool that sheds some light on voter sentiment in the last stretch before Election Day.

The map lays out tweets from President Obama and Mitt Romney that struck a chord with users in each state, ranking them by engagement and noting which messages got larger-than-normal reactions from each state.

The Post’s Natalie Jennings took a look at the messages that matter most to voters in seven swing states, and noted which issues were the most important to those critical voters.

In Ohio, for example, tweets from both candidates about taxes got the strongest reactions, though Obama’s message saying his opponent’s plan would raise taxes on the middle class was passed around much more than a Romney message pledging to bring 12 million jobs back to the state.

In Virginia, another swing state, retirement was the top Romney issue for the Twittersphere, while taxes were the main Obama issue. Marylanders, on the other hand, were most interested in Obama’s stance on terrorism and Romney’s position on health care.

In Washington, D.C., retirement, foreign affairs, abortion, energy and the economy were the top five talked-about topics from the Obama campaign; for Romney, they were education, terrorism, retirement, foreign affairs and health care.

Those taking a look at the map should definitely dig a little deeper into the data to get a full read on what the social network’s users are saying. The engagement levels don’t take into account the sentiment of tweets — skeptical tweets often show up high in the feedback to both candidates’ messages.

There are some other interesting trends that pop up if one clicks through the data.

Of the top 22 tweets for both candidates, none of the Obama campaign’s mention the accounts of Romney or his running mate Paul Ryan — 10 of the Romney campaign’s tweets do. The New York Times also noted that there are high levels of engagement across the country — which may buck some of the perception that Twitter is merely a darling of the East and West Coasts.

The map doesn’t include data from Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey or Rhode Island, saying that these states had very low engagement.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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