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A Study of Top Republican Candidates’ Twitter Followers
Dec 1, 2011

A big portion of U.S. news recently has focused around the Republican race. With each candidate offering very different views and positions (at least relatively speaking), we thought it would be interesting to study their Twitter Followers and see if their interests told a story.


The results of the study suggest that there is a relationship between what the candidates’ followers are interested in and the candidates’ political agendas.

  • Romney's and Gingrich's followers *least* interested in finance news. Isn't that the #1 issue? (tweet this)
  • Rick Perry’s followers are least interested in news and politics. Giving up, or just disinterested? (tweet this)
  • Is Fox News backing Bachmann over Perry? That’s what Bachmann’s followers seem to think! (tweet this)

The Study

We analyzed the Followers of the leading Republican candidates, including Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

A study of the candidates’ followers suggests that Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich (the two front-runners as of this writing), have the lowest percentage of followers interested in business and finance, at 40 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively. Although they appear to be the least fiscally conservative amongst the current GOP candidates, it's still surprising that so few would care about such an important topic.

Cain’s and Paul’s supporters seem to be most interested in current events and politics. On average, 65% of the six candidates’ followers read and shared this category of content. However, the number was 69% and 68% for Cain’s and Paul’s followers, respectively. Rick Perry’s followers were by far the least interested in news and politics, with only 56% of his followers reading and sharing similar content.

Top News Sources for Candidates’ Followers

The study also ventured to discover which sites candidates’ followers sourced their news from.

The Huffington Post, The Washington Post and The New York Times appeared as a top news source for each of the six candidates’ followers. Interestingly, while The Hill appeared for only 4 of the candidates’ followers, these followers certainly ranked it highly.

Apart from these ‘common’ news sources, we also had a look at which news sources might be considered unique for certain candidates’ followers. Just for fun, we also had a look at Sarah Palin’s followers for this chart.

It’s a little curious that Fox News is read and shared by followers of Bachmann and Gingrich but not Rick Perry, given that Bachmann and Perry are both among the most socially conservative candidates in the running. If they are both targeting the far-right but only Bachmann’s followers find Fox News as a top source, does this indicate that the site (implicitly through its content) has already picked their horse with Bachmann, sending Perry supporters elsewhere for their news? Discuss.

Ron Paul’s followers also found Lew Rockwell’s newsletter to be a surprisingly important source. Rockwell, of course, is Paul’s former congressional chief of staff. In fact, was the #2 source of news for Paul’s followers, ranking even higher than The Huffington Post and The New York Times.

It will be interesting to follower this race over the next few weeks, and see if this any of these sources end up influencing the eventual outcome.

A more complete listing of interests can be found here. For a more complete list of top news sources for each candidate, click here.

[A special thanks to Aliya Kanani, who contributed to this report. You can read more of her personal opinions on her blog: What Would Hillary Do?]

About Visibli

Visibli is a Social Marketing and Analytics platform that helps you optimize your social media engagement.

Visibli's proprietary 'Follower Intelligence' platform helps marketers understand what a brand's followers are interested in, who they are, and what they're talking about. Using Visibli, community managers can also analyze their shared content to better understand what followers are engaging with most, as well as segment and target them based on their interests.

Visibli's platform provides detailed, real-time analytics for all links shared on social networks and the web, helping publishers optimize their content for maximum engagement. Visibli's innovative Engagement Bar also helps content creators extend their brand and promote their products through shared links.

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