Why did Hillary Clinton choose Tim Kaine? Take a look at his Twitter followers

This commentary originally appeared on the Burson-Marsteller blog.

The selection of a vice president is often a recipe that's equal parts political calculation and old-fashioned chemistry. What if the selection of a running mate were viewed through the lens of an influencer outreach campaign? As a strategic communications agency that holds data-driven insight at the core of what we do, we look to Twitter as an important tool for measuring a brand, corporation or individual's reach and influence.

Hillary Clinton's selection of Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate offers needed exposure among several important audiences.

Harnessing our suite of proprietary analytics tools, the digital team at Burson-Marsteller examined Clinton and Kaine's Twitter followers to better understand what Clinton gains by adding Kaine to her ticket. In doing so, not only were we able to identify the many communities that form Kaine's Twitter audience in the digital world, but we determined who Kaine influences in the physical world. Here's what we found:

  • Kaine's work on the Senate Committee on Armed Services establishes his bona fides in the national security space. This is reflected among his Twitter followers who pay attention to @DHSgov, @DeptofDefense, @USArmy and @USMC.
  • In 2008, Kaine was rumored to be on then-Senator Barack Obama's short list for vice president; Kaine later served as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. As a result, Kaine had exposure to the Obama coalition of young voters and minorities. Many of Kaine's followers also follow @Messina2012 and @JeremyBird, both former senior Obama campaign advisers, and many of the state Obama for America chapters that were active following the 2008 campaign. Given this, Kaine may be effective at solidifying Obama's base – especially among Democrats who weren't otherwise ready to embrace Clinton.
  • Kaine's audience reads progressive publications, including @MotherJones, @TheNation and @Slate, further emphasizing the role Kaine can play in solidifying the Democratic party's base.

Commentary by Cameron French and Sam Harper, directors in Burson-Marsteller's public affairs and crisis practice. Follow them on Twitter @CFrench2012 and @sharper86.

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