SDSU professor analyzes social media effect on mayor’s race

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SAN DIEGO — Elections are ugly.  The San Diego mayoral race is no different.

There are daily attacks on candidates and, often, the dirty work is done on social media — especially Twitter.

twitter electionProfessor Ming Tsou, who works in the geography department at San Diego State University, is keeping a close watch on the race and the buzz created on Twitter for the top contenders — Mike Aguirre, Kevin Faulconer, David Alvarez and Nathan Fletcher.

Tsou and some colleagues created an interactive web app called Election Path that analyzes who’s hot and who’s not on Twitter.

The professor believes it could predict the winner on November 19.

“That means the more people talk about this candidate, the more likely the candidate will get more votes,” said Tsou.

The formula sifts out any messages directly sent from the candidates’ campaigns.

“We only collect the people outside the campaign team to see what they’re talking about,” said Tsou.

Tsou believes whether they’re positive or negative — a candidate will benefit from more tweets and mentions.

While Tsou admits he may be disappointed if the formula does not hit the mark on election day, he thinks it’s how elections will be monitored in the future.

“It’s way cheaper and faster than traditional polling or telephone surveys.  I think this is a new trend to gather peoples voice,” Tsou said.

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