Last week Zach Green of 140Elect, noticed some strange goings-on with Mitt Romney's Twitter account (@MittRomney). Romney's account, which had been averaging around 2,000 to 5,000 new followers a day, gained 141,000 followers in two days.
This observation prompted speculation - from Green, Slate,The Huffington Post, CNN, and many others - that the Romney Campaign was buying robot followers, or perhaps (conspiratorially) someone else was buying them to make Romney look bad.
But actual analysis of these new followers has been limited to manual observation; many do, indeed, look fake. However, high-profile users can be targets for the algorithms that run bot accounts, and some amount of bogus followers it to be expected. We decided to dig into the data of these new followers to see if they differ statistically from the new followers of other accounts similar in size to Romney. We subjected Barack Obama's account, @BarackObama, to the same analysis.