The so-called Top Conservaties on Twitter, led by their #tcot hashtag, dominated the trends on Twitter this election year, but official new data from Twitter suggests that they may not have controlled the conversations they started. Unfortunately for conservatives, its Twitter influencers haven't figured out how to turn a loud, hashtag-based trending topic into real, vote-based results. "Trends are the topics for which we see noteworthy spikes in Twitter conversations," reads a post on Twitter's official blog on the pseudo-science of determining their top trends. And what they found was that conservative ideas, GOP politicians, and the tea party were the top conversations — without really saying in which direction conversations were directed:
So what does this really mean?
Well, first off, there is no Democrat/liberal counterpart to the #tcot hashtag. And "Twitter's propensity for producing homophilies, or the tendency of similar people to cluster together and form similar opinions, may help explain why a small or even marginal minority is dominant on Twitter," explains The New York Times's Michael Rolston on the popularity of #teaparty.
Of course the big picture question is this: How could the GOP win the battle for Twitter trends every time, and not win the war? The thing to remember with any hashtag and Twitter (not a representative voter base, by any stretch) is that no one really owns a hashtag — it's more of an open forum to debate that topic. As we found with President Obama, his #my2k hashtag, and the subsequent GOP hijacking of it, you can't really control the conversation with a hashtag, even if you made the thing up. So a lot of people could have a been talking about #gop, #romney, and more this year, but not all of it was necessarily positive. And that's just one reason behind the disconnect between these results and what happened at the ballot box.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.