Twittometer, new leading political indicator!
On behalf of fellow pundits, many thanks to Frances Woolley, economics professor at Carleton University, for devising the Twittometer (her name) for monitoring the party leaders' Twitter traffic. Woolley blogs with Stephen Gordon and three other experts - hailing from five universities in Ontario and Quebec - at the insight-rich Worthwhile Canadian Initiative.
Woolley crunched the numbers for the period March 12 to March 30 (yesterday), so here we go:
Current number of Twitter followers:
1. Harper (@pmharper), 113,192
2. Iggy (@M_Ignatieff), 74,988
3. Layton @jacklayton), 68,622
4. Duceppe (@gillesduceppe), 49,637
5. May (@elizabethmay), 15,390
Absolute increase in followers since March 12:
1. Harper, 15,028
2. Iggy, 13,573
3. Layton, 10,798
4. Duceppe, 5,087
5. May, 3,943
Percentage increase in Twitter traffic since March 12:
1. May, 34%
2. Iggy, 22%
3. Layton, 19%
4. Harper, 15%
5. Duceppe, 11%
"What does this mean?" a modest Woolley asks. "That 99.97% of Canadians would rather listen to Rebecca Black's "Friday"...or watch epic meals on YouTube than follow @pmharper on Twitter."
But the tweet volume, as we monitor it through the campaign, will hint at the intensity and enthusiasm of the campaigns. After all, much if not most of this traffic is logistical and strategic alerts among campaign insiders.
I'll be taking the numbers above as a mere baseline for the weeks ahead. Whoever turns in a dullard performance in the debates, for instance, will see little if any bump next day in Twitter traffic. Over the longer course of the next few weeks, Twittometer will be a sign of the campaigns growing in fervor and those where the enthusiasm is seeping out, like a hot-air balloon losing altitude.
You can do this yourself by going to http://politwitter.ca/page/statistics, which currently is showing a big jump in Tory tweeting.