By Patrick Riechert
Political Science 

Rather than write individual term papers, political science students built a website to show how presidential candidates used Twitter during the 2012 presidential primary

In Fall 2011, Professor Adrienne Christiansen’s Cyber Politics class studied the impact that the internet and social media have had on political campaigning in U.S. elections. Students in the class undertook an innovative, semester-long research project to test the claims of many political pundits that Twitter, the social media microblogging tool, is “revolutionary” or a “game changer” in politics. Working together in teams, class members analyzed thousands of “Tweets” produced by four presidential contenders during the 2012 presidential primary election.

Students in the course also embraced the web medium as they studied it. They used a variety of social networking tools in order to do their collaborative teamwork, including Twitter, Wordle, Diigo, Google Docs, and Trello.

The culmination of the course was a website that makes the class’ research findings available to the public (

The site presents a dynamic and visually accessible overview of how Barack Obama, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Jon Huntsman used Twitter to create the impression of an “authentic” self, advertise their campaigns, and raise money.

December 1 2012

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