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2012 is going to be the Twitter election, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said at the D: Dive Into Media event in Dana Point, California Monday night.

In an interview with AllThingsD media editor Peter Kafka, Costolo said that a majority of the Republican candidates are buying ads, otherwise known as Promoted Tweets, Trends or Accounts, on the information network.

“Yes,” he said, “they’re buying ads … and they’re going to continue to do it.”

Political ads will represent a significant portion of the company’s 2012 ad sales business, Costolo predicted.

Costolo referenced the “Spilled Milk” moment in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address as a prime example of how Twitter has changed the political landscape. The moment, which spawned more than 14,000 tweets per minute, caused a collective groan that only Twitter could have captured, Costolo argued.

You used to have to wait for pundits to weigh in, Costolo added, but you don’t have to do that anymore. Washington is realizing that, he said, and they’re actively engaging in the real-time feedback loop.

“Candidates that don’t participate on Twitter while the conversation is happening,” Costolo said, “will be left behind.”

Costolo also fielded a number of questions about the company’s stance on controversial pieces of legislation, its response to Google’s Search Plus Your World, Twitter’s policy on withholding tweets, and its status (or not) as a media company (“We’re in the media business. We’re not necessarily a media company,” Costolo said).

As for why Twitter specifically chose not to participate in a web-wide blackout in protest of SOPA and PIPA, the company had a very calculated reason for not doing so. “When you’ve got an amplifier like Twitter … you don’t pull the batteries out of the microphone,” Costolo said, citing the more than 3.9 million tweets posted that day on either SOPA or PIPA.

Costolo has manned the Twitter helm as CEO for fifteen months now. In that time, he has solidified the company’s business plan around Promoted Products and, by some accounts, has single-handedly restored order (while reshaping the board) at the young and sometimes-volatile company.

Twitter has 100 million global active users who are logging in more frequently every day, Costolo said.

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