US Election 2012: Twitter is big winner as Obama is re-elected for second term

President Obama tweeted this picture of himself and his wife Michelle to mark his victory in the election (Twitter)

Records were broken last night during the US Presidential election as an astounding 31 million election-related tweets were sent, making the event the most tweeted in US political history.

As broadcasters announced the results of the election at 11:19 pm Eastern Time, activity on Twitter strengthened, peaking at an astonishing 327,000 tweets per minute.

The use of Twitter has highlighted the importance of social media during the election, which proved crucial in spreading word about closing polls, suppression and predictions.

Data produced by the Oxford Institute showed that Twitter can even predict the outcome of the election, organising tweets that mentioned either Obama or Romney according to states. 

Academics collated tweets regardless of the sentiment attached to the two candidates, meaning more states than pictured saw Romney win.

Obama's victory tweet - a picture of himself and wife Michelle with the caption "four more years" - has been shared more than 550,000 and has been favourited nearly 200,000 times.

These were his first words as a re-elected President before he delivered his victory speech in Chicago, breaking with tradition.

The picture was also shared on Facebook where it garnered more than one million 'likes'.

Previously, the honour of the most shared tweet was held by Justin Bieber which stands at 223,000 tweets.  It now stands in third place after another of Obama's tweets: "RT if you're on #TeamObama tonight," was re-tweeted more than 236,000 times.

Social media has displaced news sites and broadcasters in being the first for news, with many supporters using Twitter to find predictions, polls and comments made by candidates.

Adam Sharp, Twitter's Head of Government, News and Social Innovation, said: "In the presidential debates, for example, more than 10 million tweets were sent, with the biggest moment seeing 160k tweets per minute - double what we saw at the London Olympics when Usain Bolt was running."

[Related: Gallery of celebs endorsing Obama]

Social media will impact the way in which campaigns are run in the future.  For Rob Johnson, campaign manager for Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry's failed presidential run, Twitter "changed the dynamic this cycle and will continue to play a bigger role in years to come."

"We no longer click refresh on websites or wait for the paper boy to throw the news on our porch," Johnson said. "We go to Twitter and learn the facts before others read it."

Voters took to Twitter and Instagram to show off their #iVoted stickers while Obama and his supporters used the #StayInLine hashtag to warn voters to remain in line when the polls closed.

[Related: Katy Perry, Beyonce and Mariah Carey celebrate Obama win]

Twitter was also used to congratulate the President; Prime Minister David Cameron used the site to mark his pleasure, tweeting: "Warm congratulations to my friend @BarackObama. Look forward to continuing to work together."

However American real estate mogul Donald Trump, an avid Republican supporter, tweeted his displeasure, writing: "We can't let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!"

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