Apart from the propriety of Americans Elect communicating in glowing terms about one of its draft presidential candidates, I have a broader curiosity about who’s talking about this heretofore obscure individual as a contender for the most powerful position on the planet.
To find out, I’m taking to Twitter. The micro-mention online social media website Twitter isn’t used by everybody — in a recent nationally representative survey by the Pew Research Center, only 14% of respondents said they use Twitter, and only 5% of respondents said they get their political campaign news from Twitter. But Twitter users tend toward the high-income, high-education people who are active in driving insider political talk, which makes it a useful arena to track campaign talk.
The other advantage of Twitter is that as an expressly public medium, it’s trackable. Through the free and open-source plugin NodeXL, I’ve collected all the Twitter posts made regarding David Walker between February 17 (when David Walker himself started promoting Thomas Friedman’s upcoming New York Times article promoting him as a presidential candidate) and the morning of February 22 (that’s today).
The first thing I learned was that there are actually a lot of David Walkers out there: they include a gospel singer, an abolitionist, a soccer player, and a cofounder of a brewing company. Collectively, they were tweeted about just as much as the Americans Elect presidential candidate David Walker. Tweets about those other David Walkers are removed from the graph below, which places a dot for every Twitter account that mentions David Walker and which draws a line between accounts when one Twitter account retweets or mentions another Twitter account.
The accounts that are labeled and represented with images are those accounts who are mentioned or retweeted by others at least twice during the last five days. The influential accounts whose tweets most trigger other tweets are:
1. The Journal of Accounting, which discusses an old interview with David Walker about converting spenders to savers.
2. Dean Baker, an economist and a critical voice on David Walker, especially when it comes to his sponsorship by billionaire Social Security privatizer Pete Peterson.
3. Rick Hasen, a critical voice on Americans Elect pertaining to their skirting of election law.
4. Ken Vogel, a political journalist for Politico.
5. Mark McKinnon, who is speaking favorably of David Walker as a presidential candidate in the Americans Elect system despite his leadership positions within Americans Elect and despite Americans Elect’s neutrality policy.
On Twitter, these are the figures driving discussion of Dave Walker and his presidential bid right now.