Tweets Show Romney Slightly Ahead of Obama

Want to find out who is poised to win the election? Don’t call random voters—use an iPhone application to analyze their tweets.

Twelect does just that by predicting the outcome of this year’s presidential election based on the overall sentiment of Twitter users.

The app analyzes tweets about the two presidential frontrunners, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, and extracts positive and negative sentiment to guess which candidate will occupy the oval office this coming January.

Romney has been leading by one point over the past month and by three points over the past week, to date, according to the app.

Peter Kazazes, the 16-year-old developer of Twelect, claims that his app’s predictions are within 4% of most national polls. But he thinks his app is more informative than traditional polls.

“Twelect has an edge on these polls, however, as the program can be run at any hour of the day, as often as one could desire and at virtually no cost,” Kazazes said. “Many national polls are run on a monthly or weekly basis, even in the height of election season. Twelect is essentially running all the time, providing continuous feedback.”

Kazazes’ app can also provide insights into public policy. For example, when the Supreme Court ruled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was constitutional, Kazazes found overall sentiment was just north of positive.

However, when Kazazes eliminated the opinions that were either slightly positive or negative, he saw that overall sentiment was dominated by extremely negative opinions.

If an app like Twelect can detect Twitter’s reaction to PPACA predict a presidential election, could it predict the future of the markets? “General market mood can be discerned from Twitter,” Kazazes told PLANADVISER, saying there are many studies on the topic.

Kazazes is looking to offer Twelect as a subscription-based service, providing sentiment analysis for individual companies and clients. He also sees a potential market from individual candidates who might want to see their political standing.

While Kazazes might have changed how we predict elections, he acknowledged that Twitter has changed how we talk about them, perhaps for the better. “[It] definitely changed the discussion from a dinner table conversation to an electronic a 140-character conversation,” Kazazes said. “People who weren’t talking about politics before are talking about politics now.”

Twelect is available free from the Apple App Store.