Measuring grassroots enthusiasm for Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst in the Republican Senate runoff

I thought it would be interesting to take a quick-and-dirty measurement of the enthusiasm in the 2012 Texas Republican Senate primary runoff. So I reviewed all the tweets sent by Ted Cruz (@TedCruz) and David Dewhurst (both @DavidHDewhurst* and @TeamDewhurst) over the last 24 hours. I used the common measure of Twitter retweets (RTs) as a yardstick.

@TedCruz @TeamDewhurst @DavidHDewhurst
Total Retweets 569 65 42
Avg # of RTs 26 3 10
Tweet with highest # of RTs 142 12 28
Tweet with 2nd highest # of RTs 123 5 7

@TeamDewhurst and @TedCruz tweeted 21 and 22 times respectively, while @DavidHDewhurst tweeted just 4 times.

That's a huge difference in enthusiasm: Ted Cruz got over 5 times the number of RTs. Cruz even had two tweets that got more retweets than all of Dewhurst's retweets combined from both accounts. The disparity is actually even greater than it appears:

1. Half of @TedCruz's tweets were fundraising tweets which are notoriously difficult to get retweeted. If you removed the fundraising tweets from the sample then the average number of RTs for any given @TedCruz tweet would probably have been near 50. Not surprisingly given how little enthusiasm they have, Dewhurst doesn't fundraise through Twitter.
2. A huge percentage (maybe a majority though I didn't count) of Dewhurst's tweets were from paid staffers. I noticed because they would be the same few accounts retweeting on all of Dewhurst's tweets. If you took those out, Dewhurst's totals might be half of what they appear to be. To be fair, Cruz's staffers also retweet their boss's tweets, but it is a much smaller percentage.

Ted Cruz probably had about 10-15 tweets yesterday that got more retweets than Dewhurst's highest tweet from either account.

Bottom line:
Ted Cruz has a clear advantage in grassroots support and enthusiasm. Twitter users with enough enthusiasm to retweet for their candidate is a rough approximation of some demographics who will vote in a July runoff. Although Twitter is hardly a perfect proxy or scientific, the massive disparity confirms what we see everywhere else: there is no enthusiasm on Dewhurst's side. Kay Bailey Hutchison may have even had more grassroots support in 2010's Republican primary than Dewhurst has in this runoff.** That's a huge danger sign for Dewhurst.

* After I called them out on a profile that hadn't changed in months, a few days afterward Texas Conservatives Fund Dewhurst SuperPAC edited their profile.
** At least Hutchison had the excuse of being the challenger and being outspent by Perry, whereas Dewhurst is the quasi-incumbent and is spending millions and millions more than Cruz.

Posted by Evan @ 06/29/12 12:01 AM


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Presuming that twitter retweets is a measure of grassroots support.

Posted by other Evan @ 06/29/12 07:36 PM

GIGO I don't retweet most of what I read. Further, it's not a valid premise that "grassroots" supporters live on Twitter. In fact, many of them are barely computer literate and even more refuse to sign up on FaceBook or Twitter. The real tin hat crowd - about as grass roots as you can get - will not share enough personal data to log on.
Now, if you want to measure "me too's," nerds, people who don't sleep and the generally compulsive, I'd probably fit in there and your statistics would be much more valid. (grin)

Posted by bnuckols @ 06/30/12 04:07 PM

Is the previous commenter - bnuckols - implying that grassroots supports are idiots??? That we are too stupid to use a computer or are too paranoid to sign up for Facebook or Twitter? Wow! The definition of grassroots is "of, pertaining to, or involving the common people". What a slam to the average Texas voter. bnuckols must be a Dewhurst support as we have seen how Dewhurst values the average voter with his lack of attendance at numerous events throughout the state of Texas.

Posted by Holli Rook @ 07/07/12 12:03 PM

Woohoo Ted! Texans for Ted! Ted Cruz is the only REAL conservative in this race. Choose Cruz! Ted will fight for our Liberty!!! Woohoo! Ted leads Dewhurst 49-40!!!

Posted by TexasTweetyBird @ 07/07/12 12:37 PM

Holi, everything you said is correct. I'm on Twitter for Cruz and have interacted with bnuckols several times...

Posted by Richard @ 07/07/12 12:38 PM

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