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Twitter Sentiment on Republican ads

December 28, 2011

For the better part of 2011, the Republican presidential primaries campaigns have been in full force. It has been a very active campaign season with numerous debates and the unavoidable gaffes, jabs and past scandals surfacing over its course. To summarize: we’ve seen a series of hopefuls taking the spotlight as the front-runner, one at a time, only to give it up to the next candidate within a few weeks.

As the start of the official primary and caucus season draws near, the candidates’ ads have turned to sharper language in defining their political messaging and attacking their opponents more directly (more coverage on this from the NYTimes and The Nation).

Rick Perry’s ad from December 7th was particularly controversial. The ad, titled ‘Strong’, instantly received a slew of reactions from the public, most of them negative, after airing on YouTube. We measured the reaction and compared it to a few other pointed ads of this month. By far, the Perry ad received the most mentions on Twitter with over 18,000 mentions. Moreover, an overwhelmingly negative response was measured in the sentiment analysis.

The two current front-runners, Gingrich and Romney, have aired their own ads, but neither has succeeded in achieving much traction. Romney’s had a lukewarm response to the little attention it got; while opinion on Gingrich’s ad was fairly positive, but it came from less than 100 total mentions. The results are summarized in the table below.


# of mentions

Sentiment score

Percentage Positive

Percentage Negative

Percentage Neutral


> 18k






< 100






< 200






To complete the picture, Ron Paul’s ad against Gingrich, ‘Serial Hypocrisy’ has gotten a lot more attention with over 4,000 shares. Most of the comments applaud Paul and second him in his criticism of Gingrich.

The Iowa caucus will be the first, taking place on January 3rd. The campaigning is only expected to get more negative and more intense in the coming weeks. We can expect a few more ads to air from these candidates. And we’ll be watching.


Posted by vanessa