How social media could influence who wins Election 2012

How social media could influence who wins Election 2012

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PHOENIX -

Many Arizona voters used early ballots, many others are voting Tuesday, and more than ever, voters are sharing their opinions on social media.

Election news and numbers are getting out faster than ever before because of social media.

Twitter has changed the face of politics and could influence the outcome of Tuesday's election.

Four years ago, retweet, @reply and hashtag were not household phrases, trending topics didn't determine water-cooler conversations and if someone was "following you," it wasn't a good thing.

When President Obama was elected, 6 million people were on Twitter. Today, the Twitterverse has grown to more than 500 million and grows at a rate of 150,000 per day.

It would only take 6 minutes Tuesday to equal the number of tweets sent out the entire Election Day in 2008!

"After the success and use of social media last election, especially Twitter, I think everyone's jumping on it. Whether it be the presidential candidates, the senator or anyone who's up for election, I think they're seeing the benefits of social media," said Fred Vongraf, a social media expert.

So how do the presidential candidates stack up on Twitter?

In terms of followers and frequency, Obama's got the numbers.

But trash talking Twitpics? looks like a draw.

Romney dissed Obamacare in a big way and Obama Twitpic'ed Romney as a villain to the middle class.

But will this make a big difference?

"the way we communicate today has changed through social media and I think people actually use Twitter, Facebook and other social channels like a form of communication...So ya, it probably can impact things. I don't think it's gonna change people's minds. I think most people have made up their minds. Those who haven't probably aren't gonna use a social channel, but it might guide them in getting some information to help them make an informed decision," said Vongraf.

Whether you're #TeamObama or #TeamRomney, when results come in Tuesday night, Twitter will be abuzz.

"you can share photos, you can stay connected, you can broadcast through it. Especially if you're doing marketing, which the politicians are, it's a wonderful tool. I think that we will not set a record, but we will without a doubt blow away what was out there the last election," said Vongraf.

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