Twitter’s performance during the political conventions

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While all eyes were on Tampa, Fla. and Charlotte, N.C. these last two weeks for the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, we had our eyes, and monitors, on Twitter to see if and how these events impacted Twitter’s website performance.

As is the case with most big news events today, people took to Twitter in a big way for real-time information and broke some records in the process.

After the Republican National Convention (RNC) concluded last week, Twitter reported that 4 million tweets were sent out in total about the RNC. Following the conclusion of President Obama’s speech last night, Twitter reported that 9 million tweets about the Democratic National Convention were sent out this week, calling it a “record political moment.”

Now let’s take a closer look at how all this Twitter activity affected the website’s performance during some specific events over the last two weeks. Using Apica’s real browser monitoring, we ran checks on Twitter’s homepage every 10 minutes from our West Coast monitoring location, measuring the site’s availability and response time.

Ann Romney, wife of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, took to the stage at the Republican National Convention last Tuesday evening, Aug. 28. During Ann’s address, Twitter reported that she generated as many as 6,195 tweets per minute, with the biggest increase in activity occurring when Mitt joined his wife on stage at the end of her speech.

The performance graph below shows Twitter’s response time on Aug. 28 between 5 p.m. PST and 11 p.m. PST. As you can see, the traffic caused some fluctuations, with spikes close to 12 seconds (12,000 milliseconds as noted in the graph) following Ann’s speech. (Note: response times shown in graphs are in milliseconds.)

Republican candidate Mitt Romney closed out the Republican National convention on Thursday evening, Aug. 23. During the peak of his speech, he drew 14,355 tweets per minute. A look at Twitter’s performance between 7 p.m. PST and 11 p.m. PST again shows variations in response time from just under 4 seconds to over 10 seconds once Romney took the stage.

The biggest spikes in response time came during the Democratic National Convention when Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton took the stage.

First Lady Michelle Obama spoke in North Carolina this past Tuesday, Sept. 4. Her speech drew 28,000 tweets per minute, topping the Twitter records of the week before. Twitter’s response time spiked to over 25 seconds shortly after 7 p.m. PST during Michelle Obama’s address.

President Bill Clinton also lit up Twitter the following night, bringing in 22,087 tweets per minute by the end of his speech. A look at Twitter’s performance on Wednesday, Sept. 5 between 7 p.m. PST and 11 p.m. PST shows an increase in response time from 6 seconds to close to 12 seconds right around 8 p.m. PST when Clinton was on stage.

The Democratic National Convention ended last night with President Obama taking the stage to accept the Democratic nomination. His appearance broke the new record for political Twitter activity during both conventions, drawing in 52,757 tweets per minute. Despite this increase in activity, Twitter’s performance remained stable throughout the evening, indicating that the site was well-prepared to handle the traffic.

In addition to Twitter, we’ve also been measuring the uptime and availability of the election websites over the last several months. We are happy to report that each of them has delivered over 99 percent availability thus far.

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