As the Michigan primary lurched to its conclusion, the Twitter wit @LOLGOP seemed to best sum up the stakes for Mitt Romney: "HEADLINE: Michigan torn over whether to bail out Mitt Romney."
By the time Arizona and then Michigan went to the Romney column, our analysis of tweets around the election registered its highest overall spikes for Romney. CNN's announcements that he'd won the two states, which came about an hour and a half apart, also inspired the night's highest positive sentiment spikes, according to our beta analysis of how favorable tweets are about the candidates they mention.
Romney's statement that "I'll get us that oil from Canada that we deserve" was the most quoted sentence of the night on Twitter. For example, Michigan native son Michael Moore responded: "Canadians, in case you missed it tonight: Romney: "I'll get us that oil from Canada we deserve!" Don't worry, our drones attack swiftly." Joan Walsh of Salon.com chimed in that "Romney's saving the soul of America - so he doesn't have to baptize it later."
Below is a graph of total tweet volume for each candidate throughout the night:
Volume for Romney remained high during his wife, Ann's, introduction and his speech. Trending names included Kid Rock and Donald Trump, both of whom Ann thanked by name. But nonsupporters had a few jabs of their own: @alexwagner: "Mitt Romney pushing underdog narrative in MI w/ shoutouts to Kid Rock and Donald Trump = evidence GOP primary is being held in the Twilight Zone."
Rick Santorum saw his momentum slowed down by Mitt Romney's wins. While active supporters (automatically extracted by our algorithms) such as @CauseofourJoy, @CatholicLisa and @RicksArmyOnline kept the faith, reporting positive partial results and encouraging signs throughout the day, negative sentiment peaked with the announcements of Santorum's losses in Arizona and Michigan. (In fact, CNN's projection in Michigan interrupted Santorum's remarks.) In a CNN interview, Ron Paul also stoked the coals of the anti-Santorum sentiment by referring to him as "an addict on conspiracies." Keywords associated with Rick Santorum's name reflect some of the controversial remarks made by the candidate in the past few days, as well as his focus on hot-button social issues: snobs, college, birth control, women, married, kennedy and so forth.
TOP QUOTES FROM MICHIGAN SPEECHES
We tracked the most retweeted quotes from the two top candidates' speeches, using our in-house computational algorithm that automatically extracts, clusters and ranks reported speech from Twitter.
(1) "I'll get us that oil from Canada that we deserve."
(2) "We didn't win by a lot, but we won by enough, and that's all that counts."
(3) "Our campaign is about restoring the promise of America."
(4) "America is the greatest nation in the history of the earth."
(1) "The men and women who signed that Declaration of Independence…"
(2) "A month ago they didn't know who we are, but they do now."
(3) "They [the government] know how to run your life better than you."
(4) "…the best oil, light sweet crude."
SAMPLE TOP TWEETS
@LOLGOP: "I would donate money to Mitt Romney but all my money is in a blind trust that invests in the Caymans until I decide to run for President."
@scullymike: "Mitt Romney personally makes his own robo-calls because the recorded ones 'don't sound mechanical enough.' (assist to @RobLowe)"
@JedediahBila: "Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up? RT @trscoop:2008 Romney: We will fight to get health care for all Americans: http://t.co/PkujJE2o."
@TeamSantorum: MT @philip_elliott: Santorum adv Brabender: "It is not a win for Romney but tie for Mitt Romney in his home state. Each claims 15 delegates."
@LOLGOP: "Ironic that Rick Santorum lost the Catholic vote in Michigan when his whole campaign is a Hail Mary."
@ebertchicago: "Who made these statements? Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei or Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum? http://t.co/HIOP6oZJ."
@PimpBillClinton: "If anything can change Rick Santorum's mind about abortion it's finding out that Snooki is pregnant."
@guypbenson: "Ron Paul just called Rick Santorum an 'addict on conspiracies' on #CNN #chuckle"
@LOLGOP: "The key question, Wolf, is why is the Illuminati telling Ron Paul to help Mitt Romney."
Thanks to: Ajeet Grewal (Content Science team, Y! Labs); IntoNow and Ajay Shekhawat (Y! Labs) for raw data.