Twitter measures the mood of the nation with the Twitter Political Index

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Twitter is turning to you and the stream-of-consciousness feelings you express on the presidential candidates to concoct a political poll of a different kind.

Dubbed the Twitter Political Index, the alternative polling tool is the information network’s way of quantifing the Twittersphere’s perception of the presidential candidates in a meaningful way.

Tweets mentioning Barack Obama or Mitt Romney are weighed against all other tweets on a daily basis, and each candidate is assigned a sentiment score to reflect the day’s conversations. The index also shows the fluctuation in scores over time.

“A score of 73 for a candidate indicates that Tweets containing their name or account name are on average more positive than 73 percent of all Tweets,” explained Adam Sharp, Twitter’s head of government, news, and social innovation.

Twitter desires its index to augment traditional polling mechanisms, not replace them, and provide additional insight into the attitude of the nation, Sharp said.

The Twitter Political Index updates each day after 8 p.m. Eastern. It’s powered by data analysis company Topsy and long-standing polling firms The Mellman Group and North Start Opinion Research. USA Today will also use the index as part of its election meter.

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