As the presidential race picks up the pace, Twitter has become the go-to meeting place for those dealing in political dirt. A Pew center study finds it a far more negative medium than blogs or the mainstream press.

As the presidential race heats up, Twitter is turning into the water cooler for more and more Americans to dish about the dark side of a candidate, according to a new study of social and traditional media sources released Thursday by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Noting that some 13 percent of Americans are now using Twitter, Mark Jurkowitz, the project’s associate director, says, “this is fast becoming the country’s vox populi.”

The Pew study surveyed some 20 million Twitter tweets, blog postings and traditional news stories filed on the election from May 2 through Nov. 27, and examined them for the tone of the commentary.

“The political conversation on Twitter is noticeably different than that on blogs, and both are markedly different than the political narrative presented by the mainstream press,” he says.

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