Tweeting the State of the Union

Hashtags provided a real-time account of the President's speech.


Justin Franz


Published Jan 25, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 10:19 pm CDT

President Barack Obama talked jobs and the economy Tuesday night during his third, and perhaps final, State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress.

The speech was without a doubt the most important one of Obama’s political carrier as he faces a tough battle for reelection, and it echoed across Twitter.

According to, the hashtag #SOTU was used almost 60,000 times during the speech and more than 90,000 times throughout the day Tuesday. Within moments of the start of the speech, the hashtags #SOTU, #StateOfTheUnion, and related terms were trending both in the United States and around the world.

For Twitter, too, this was an important test: A recent redesign that highlights popular terms is meant to make it easier for people who just read Twitter for news and commentary rather than post tweets themselves.

During the course of the speech, both President Obama’s campaign Twitter account and the official White House account sent out excerpts from the address. A common theme of the speech, especially toward the end, was ending the gridlock that has overtaken Washington D.C. in recent years.

“This nation is great because we worked as a team. This nation is great because we get each other’s backs,” Obama said.

Some of the men vying to replace Obama also took to social media to get their message out about the problems they see facing the United States. One of the most active was loquacious long-shot candidate Buddy Roemer, who sent out more than two dozen tweets over the course of the hour. Roemer placed much of the blame for the country’s problems on Obama, but also spread it around to all politicians in Washington D.C.

“Mr. President. DC isn’t broken, it’s corrupt. You can’t bring up money in politics and not address the biggest problem!” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, running for the Republican nomination, took to both Facebook and YouTube to offer  what he believed to be the real state of the union.

In a short video, the campaign spliced footage of Romney speaking in an abandoned warehouse with footage of Obama’s past speeches, ones that he said promised too much and delivered too little. The video was posted on Facebook about an hour before the President addressed Congress and within just a few hours had gained more than 5,000 likes and 900 comments.

Newt Gingrich, who’s hardly been quiet in his criticisms of both Romney and Obama, stayed surprisingly quiet on Facebook and Twitter during the speech.

Photo by the White House


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*First Published: Jan 25, 2012, 1:22 am CST