An ex-staffer of the Newt Gingrich 2012 presidential campaign has alleged that the former House Speaker is manufacturing Twitter followers. Gingrich recently expressed irritation that the media has been in his view snubbing his campaign. Speaking to the editorial board of the Georgia-based Marietta Daily, Gingrich argued that his campaign remains viable and worthy of attention and by way of evidence cited his large following on Twitter, a social network. Speaking in reference to a news article that did a report on Twitter followers:
“And [the article] says, ‘now it’s true that Gingrich has 1.3 million followers and [Michele] Bachmann only has 59,000, but she’s getting more new people every week.’ It turned out I have six times as many Twitter followers as all the other candidates combined, but it didn’t count because if it counted I’d still be a candidate; since I can’t be a candidate that can’t count. So we’ve been a little bit like a sailing ship in the middle of a hurricane in which we are sailing straight into the teeth of the media, and that slowed us down,” Gingrich said.
But now an ex-staffer has come forward anonymously to say that the overwhelming majority of those Twitter followers are dummy accounts. As told to Gawker: “Newt employs a variety of agencies whose sole purpose is to procure Twitter followers for people who are shallow/insecure/unpopular enough to pay for them. As you might guess, Newt is most decidedly one of the people to which these agencies cater.”
He estimated only 10% of the accounts are genuine: ”About 80 percent of those accounts are inactive or are dummy accounts created by various “follow agencies,” another 10 percent are real people who are part of a network of folks who follow others back and are paying for followers themselves …and the remaining 10 percent may, in fact, be real, sentient people who happen to like Newt Gingrich.” That would put Gingrich’s real Twitter following at 130,000. Still more than the roughly 65,000 and 62,000 that, say, Rep. Michele Bachmann or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney respectively claim, but far less than Newt’s boasting.
On the face of things, it would appear incongruous with the state of the Republican field if Gingrich were the most popular on Twitter of all declared candidates considering that his campaign has hardly attracted much of a following on the ground. But the Gingrich campaign has defended itself and responded that Gingrich has such a large following because he personally manages his account and averages three Tweets a day since his Twitter launch 29 months ago.
Gingrich announced his campaign with much publicity earlier this year, but has failed to gain much traction and a Gingrich campaign spokesman recently admitted that fundraising is “a challenge” after the campaign suffered a series of resignations, including top staff. Staff cited the controlling influence of Gingrich’s wife and the candidate’s abrupt departure for a Greek cruise shortly after declaring his candidacy as reasons for leaving.
Gingrich has not released official fundraising figures thus far, as opposed to most of the rest of the field, and in polling consistently places in single-digits in the bottom half.