With Election Day less than two weeks away, it's time to turn off the cable news and roll up the newspaper, because the best source of political news is arriving in 140 characters.
The savviest political reporters and analysts are increasingly turning to Twitter to promote their scoops, unveil fresh Gallup polling or offer their own real-time analysis of the stretch run between President Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney. Ryan Lizza and Nate Silver may not be household names, but any self-respecting political junkie should add them to the Twitter feed or risk being a step behind on the latest from the campaign trail.
They're not the only ones with opinions worthy of being microblogged. There are also Hollywood stars including Alec Baldwin and Albert Brooks, who offer a unique perspective on the absurdities of the modern-day political process.
Here's a look at the best political tweeters from Tinseltown to the Beltway.
HOLLYWOOD POLITICAL WATCHERS
Why you should follow: You never know which Alec you’re going to get? The firebrand who slugs it out with paparazzi or the suave and sophisticated star who is such a riot on “30 Rock.” One thing is certain, love or loathe his politics, the guy actually has a brain.
Sample political tweet: Obama is more prepared 2b Prez than Romney. Romney is prepared 2b pres of a country club. I write that w all due respect to country clubs
Be prepared for: The odd rant.
Why you should follow: Colbert is funnier in 140 characters than he is on an average 30-minute episode of “The Colbert Report.” His blustery, egomaniacal character is the perfect match for a platform that rewards real-time hagiography.
Sample political tweet: Obama delivered pizza to volunteer campaign workers this weekend. He's obviously preparing for life in the private sector.
Be prepared for: Plugging for his book “America Again,” but he manages to make his sales pitch amusing.
Why you should follow: Who knew the “Double Jeopardy” star was such a political sage? She brings her Democratic and feminist views to bear on issues such as abortion and sex trafficking, but unlike some other stars who just gas on about their pet causes, Judd bothers to do a little research before she tweets.
Sample political tweet: Correct: Romney does not like 47m families on food stamps: he will eliminate food stamps & let struggling families & kids go even hungrier.
Be prepared for: An overabundance of bonhomie.
Why you should follow: The baron of News Corp. is a fierce advocate of the free market and an even fiercer critic of Obama’s policies, but he marches to his own drummer. He’s unafraid to break with Republican orthodoxy on issues or tell Romney to lighten up.
Sample political tweet: Last four years. Rich have got richer, poor poorer. So much for "hope and change" . What planned changes for next 4 from O?
Be prepared for: A “mogul knows best” tone.
Why you should follow: He deserves to be in your feed, because the man is a freaking comic genius, but his political one-liners are pretty choice too.
Sample political tweet: I was there when Romney said, "Let's go look for women."
Be prepared for: Laughing out loud and embarrassing yourself in front of co-workers.
Why you should follow: “The View” co-host is an unapologetic lefty who devours political data and news. Not as polished with the put-downs as some other comics, but her ragged style is more engaging and genuine.
Sample political tweet: OMG!!!!! Did Romney just say the kids of emigrants should be able to stay, isn't that what Obama put in place and got heat because of it?
Be prepared for: Boring news about her appearance on “666 Park Ave.” Yawn.
Why you should follow: He’s a pretty good thermostat for measuring Wall Street’s rage at Obama, as well as the source for non-"October Surprises."
Sample political tweet: If you like having the world collapse and being told America is leading from behind--vote Obama.
Be prepared for: A healthy ego.
Why you should follow: This one-time Republican strategist turned CNN political contributor skews to the right, but he’s willing to concede when the other team has a good day.
Sample political tweet: I'd prefer no moderator: two men, coliseum, & a few lions. MT @murphymike: kill idiotic townhall and VP debates. 5 debates over 5 weeks
Be prepared for: Creative capitalization.
Why you should follow: Romney’s press secretary is social media savvy and furiously tweets the campaign’s latest broadsides as she hopscotches across swing states.
Sample political tweet: Obama’s cuts will cause enrollment in Medicare advantage to “plummet by about 50%, leave seniors w/ “higher out-of-pocket costs”
Be prepared for: Vitriol directed at the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Why you should follow: The former White House senior advisor is Obama’s right-hand man. It’s a pretty good bet the issues he chooses to highlight on Twitter are ones his team thinks could swing the race in their favor. Attention must be paid.
Sample political tweet: Mitt's 9 percent solution. Or, maybe, solution to 9 percent. http://bit.ly/VlHO0u
Be prepared for: A barrage of Mitt = heartless plutocrat jabs.
Why you should follow: The veteran Democratic strategist had a front-row seat as Al Gore’s campaign manager in 2000 so she offers a behind-the-scenes perspective of how a national race is waged, just not how it is won.
Sample political tweet: Why didn’t Obama go after Mitt Romney last time? Maybe because, for all he could tell, that guy at the debate was simply not Mitt Romney.
Be prepared for: Being a cheerleader for Democrats can sometimes color her analytical skills.
Why you should follow: The New Yorker’s Washington correspondent is a deep-thinking political sage well-versed in the language of Twitter. Read his 30,000-word pieces for fascinating, in-depth portraits of major players in the campaign, but tune into his feed for his wry take on slices of political ham.
Sample political tweet: Long Island last night, Boca next week. We should call these the Seinfeld debates.
Be prepared for: Feeling dumber than him.
Why you should follow: Huffington Post’s political editor is a whirling dervish when it comes to micro-blogging. Follow him and you’ll have up-to-the-millisecond information on the latest swing state numbers, attack ads and campaign trail gaffes.
Sample political tweet: we are getting to the point where it's quite conceivable that Obama will win re-election while losing the popular vote
Be prepared for: A liberal helping of snark.
Why you should follow: Savage may be better known for sex advice than campaign analysis, but he provides wonderfully arch takes on the political absurdities.
Sample political tweet: More shocks for Founders: air travel, moving pictures, 50 Shades of Gray, 14th Amendment, indoor plumbing, powderless wigs. #ShockedFounders
Be prepared for: Irreverent, so prudes beware.
Why you should follow: Nobody crunches the numbers better than the Five Thirty Eight blogger. Silver has a reputation for having an almost Delphic-like ability for projecting the winner of any election, so it pays to find out how he’s calling a race.
Sample political tweet: The first rule of poll analysis is that if a poll looks like an outlier, it usually is.
Be prepared for: Not for for the numbers-phobic.
Why you should follow: The “Up” host is a wonky treasure trove, who, like his MSNBC brethren, is an unapologetic lefty, but brings facts and stats to an ideological fight.
Sample political tweet: Just fyi, inflation is basically as low as its been in our lifetimes.
Be prepared for: Annoying habit of retweeting tweets that mention him.
Why you should follow: This Buzzfeed reporter is a prodigious, often meme-tastic authority on the latest campaign attacks and polling data. Seriously, does this guy sleep?
Sample political tweet: Feel horribly ill, think I have a debate spin hangover.
Be prepared for: Perhaps a tad over-communicative
HILARIOUS FAKE ACCOUNTS
CLINT’S EMPTY CHAIR
Why you should follow: Yes, the most bizarre moment of political theater in history, Clint Eastwood berating an empty chair as a stand-in for Obama at the RNC, has inspired a Twitter feed. Sit back and let the crusty old man jokes fly.
Sample political tweet: Have you yelled at a chair today yet?
Be prepared for: A lack of tweeting after an RNC-inspired flurry.
Why you should follow: After Romney said he liked Big Bird but would still gut PBS, liberal blogger Cale Crout decided to weigh in as the yellow feathered critter. Turns out Big Bird is a lot funnier on Twitter than he ever was on “Sesame Street.”
Sample political tweet: Or me. :( RT @ChrisRockoz A Romney presidency would be great unless you're poor, gay, Mexican, Black, a woman, a student, or a dog. #debates
Be prepared for: If politicizing a beloved children’s icon isn’t for you, it’s best to move along.
Why you should follow: Democrats should just hand over their messaging to whoever is behind this feed, because their satire is far more devastating than any shots of laid-off steel workers or screeds about Cayman Island accounts could ever be.
Sample political tweet: 78% of viewers said that President Obama won the debate but they'd rather have Mitt Romney's pension.
Be prepared for: Could safely be accused of disrespecting the Grand Old Party