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Politics

Rick Santorum victories puzzle many on Twitter, delight others

With three wins so far on Super Tuesday, Rick Santorum has taken seven state nominating contests. Late into the evening, he remained locked in a tight battle in Ohio with more than 95% of precincts reporting.

Joy and surprise have dominated the reaction on Twitter, where Santorum has long been the subject of ire, according to analysis of social sentiment by San Francisco-based Kanjoya.

So who exactly was happy?

MOOD METER: Track political social sentiment

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Obama supporters appear to make up a substantial contingent of those celebrating, Kanjoya officials found.

“Over 52% of the emotive Santorum tweets that mention Obama or the Democrats are joyful,” said Kanjoya engineer Moritz Sudhof. “Some of them are what we would consider gleeful, but many of them are just happy about the result because it helps Obama.”

@PhdStudentMatt, who attends school in Canada, tweeted: “My lord, could santorum actually go to ohio!??  hahaha, obama must be laughing his [bottom] off right now.”

And @germsey said: “Cool, cool. that just ensures an obama win. which i’m fine with so... @newsok: santorum wins oklahoma.”

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Kanjoya, which uses a computer algorithm to track sentiment in social media, found distinctly different reaction among those with “sad” tweets about Santorum’s strong Super Tuesday  performance.

@euanrellie said: “santorum might win ohio tonight. god save us all.  obama’s not complaining.”

And Neal Boortz, a conservative radio host based in Florida, tweeted: “did y’all see how badly santorum did on fox news sunday today?  pathetic.  nominate him and it’s a guaranteed obama win.”

The breakdown of “happy” tweets mentioning Santorum and Obama, compared to those mentioning Mitt Romney and Obama, seemed similar at first glance, Sudhof said.

“Superficially, this doesn’t seem different from Romney’s tweets -- 49% of the Romney tweets that reference Obama or the Democrats are also joyful,” he said. “The actual tweets, though, are very different.”

Only about 2% of the Romney tweets tracked mention a “happy Obama,” according to Kanjoya.

Most were references to Obama’s comments earlier Tuesday at a news conference when reporters asked him to respond to Romney calling him “feckless.”

“Good luck tonight,” Obama replied.

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“No, really,” a reporter said.
 "Really,” Obama answered.  


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