We started collecting data on all potential 2012 GOP candidates at the beginning of 2011 for 2012twit.com, and at that time Ron Paul’s official account was @RepRonPaul. At the end of April, his presidential campaign created @RonPaul. By late June we had a lot of requests to switch over our tracking to use this new account, but at the time this new screen name had much fewer followers than @RepRonPaul. It seemed like this would show Ron Paul in an unfair light versus the other candidates. @RonPaul is now only 8,000 followers behind @RepRonPaul, so it finally seemed like the right time to make this switch.
We’ll still probably get requests to track both Ron Paul accounts in some way, but that doesn’t seem fair. Some candidates have up to 3 or 4 ‘official’ Twitter accounts. Should we add up all the followers for every account that represents a candidate? Our policy has been to collect stats based on the single account that is most authoritative for each candidate, and to also track all mentions of their real name. We make a strong effort not to switch back and forth between screen names, so our long term stats can be consistent.
Another example of this problem is Jon Huntsman. He originally had a single @JonHuntsman account, which is what we decided to track. His campaign than created @Jon2012HQ, and very few tweets came though @JonHuntsman. We stayed with the original account, and this proved to be the right decision. Huntsman returned to @JonHuntsman, and that account is where most of his tweets and followers can be found.