I’m not a fan of Facebook, but I love Twitter as a way to gather information from people and groups that interest me. At NC State University, computer science professor Christopher Healey obtained permission from Twitter to analyze tweets during the recent presidential and gubernatorial debates. Among the findings is this tidbit about “retweeting” behavior, which is one of the digital components of a candidate’s ground game.

For instance, President Barack Obama achieved internet fame during a debate when he responded to a Mitt Romney criticism that the size of the U.S. Navy is smaller now than it was in 1916.

“Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed,” Obama said. “We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them.”

“Horses and bayonets” quickly became a top-tweeted phrase. The researchers could look at the two charts and conclude that the general sentiment was positive for Obama, Healey said.

Healey also noticed that Romney supporters “retweet” a lot more than Obama supporters.

Fascinating. I would have bet it was the opposite, considering the demographics of the president’s supporters.