Obama campaign quickly co-opts Twitter to push opposition research

Chris Wilson
The Signal

Twitter erupted in excitement Friday as news broke that Mitt Romney had selected Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, but the volume promptly dropped off as bedtime arrived. Now, in the sober light of morning, the Obama campaign appears to be effectively mobilizing its opposition research on the microblogging platform.

At 9 a.m. EDT, conversation peaked, with Twitter users discussing Ryan at a clip of about 40,000 tweets an hour, according to social media analysis firm Attensity. By 11 a.m., four of the five top URLs in those tweets pointed to official Obama campaign material. Minutes after it was posted, thousands of people retweeted an @BarackObama tweet listing "5 Things you need to know about Mitt Romney's VP pick." Also in the top five were a press release from the Obama campaign calling Ryan the "architect of the radical Republican House budget," a landing page on the campaign website branding Romney and Ryan the "Go Back Team," and GoBackTeam.com, which redirects to that page. GoBackTeam.com was registered through a proxy service on July 13.

Twitter is generally considered to arc liberal, and the list of the most popular links in tweets discussing Ryan compiled by Attensity appear to confirm that. Other links in the top 15 include an extremely negative assessment of Ryan by The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn and a similar hit by the liberal website Think Progress. Twitter's own political index generally finds more positive sentiment for Obama than Romney, although it's opaque methodology makes this difficult to independently confirm.

The wording of the top Web pages shared around Ryan--The New Republic piece is titled "Six Things to Know About Ryan—and Romney," and the ThinkProgress piece is titled "12 Things You Should Know About Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan"--suggest neither the Obama campaign nor the left-leaning media thinks people know much of anything about Ryan to begin with.

There are not currently any links to Romney campaign material or sympathetic publications in Attensity's measurement of the top Twitter links.

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