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Twitter redefining presidential elections

Published: Friday, April 27 2012 7:02 p.m. MDT

President Barack Obama answers a tweet from House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio during a "Twitter Town Hall" in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Charles Dharapak, AP

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Two major media outlets have new articles out that examine the different ways Twitter is changing how political campaigns provide information to and receive feedback from perspective voters.

The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty published the piece "Twitter becomes a key real-time tool for campaigns" on Thursday.

"The six-year-old micro-blogging site came into its own this presidential cycle," Tumulty wrote. "But the past few weeks have demonstrated how clearly it has become the tool of choice for getting something into the political bloodstream, from manufacturing a battle over who can be called a working mom to building a movement around a piece of legislation."

Tumulty's article opens with a scene from the press conference President Obama held Tuesday, in which he twice encouraged Americans to use Twitter as a tool for objecting to an iminent rise in federal student loan rates.

“Tweet them — we’ve got a hashtag," the president said. "Here’s the hashtag for you to tweet them: #dontdoublemyrate.”

On Friday, the Huffington Post's Michael Calderone penned an article with the headline "Obama, Romney campaigns embrace Twitter-fueled news cycle." The Calderone piece focused on the new reality that everything a presidential candidate says and does will immediately be chopped up and analyzed via Twitter.

"A long string of micro-controversies (have) come to epitomize coverage of the Twitter-fueled 2012 election — a media-soaked spectacle where political reporters jump on each gaffe, opposition research dump or morsel of manufactured outrage," Calderone wrote.

Although Twitter may be reshaping the way insiders and political junkies play politics, the technology hasn't spread fast enough to incorporate large segments of the U.S. population in real-time political discussions. For example, the Pew Research Center released survey results in February that showed only 5 percent of Americans get any political news whatsoever from Twitter — a number so low that it even pales in comparison to other emerging media platforms like YouTube (a news source for 15 percent of Americans) and Facebook (20 percent).

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