Yesterday, Twitter launched its Twitter Political Index to track enthusiasm for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the run-up to the November US Presidential election.
The Twitter Political Index is a daily measurement that evaluates the sentiment of Twitter users feelings about the candidates based on an estimated two million Twitter mentions of the candidates in a given week relative to more than 400 million tweets sent about other topics each day.
This is a great example of Crowdsourcing, which involves taking a task usually performed by one or a few people (in this case doing political research) and distributing among a crowd of people-outsourcing it to a crowd-via online social networks.
Tapping the crowd to learn about buyers (and voters)
I'll be particularly interested to see how the Twitter Political Index changes when one or the other candidate has a success (a great speech for example) or a public gaffe. And it will be fascinating to learn on election day if global Twitter users are a good proxy for the American electorate.
The techniques used by the Twitter Political Index are available to companies using products like those from Radian6 to gauge the sentiment around products and companies. It is a fascinating way for marketers and PR pros to mine a huge amount of data.
For more information on the Twitter Political Index, USA Today has a good analysis Twitter index tracks sentiment on Obama, Romney.