Epsom once again could be the electorate that decides the election. Twitter is therefore awash with armchair Epsom-watchers sharing their insights and barbs. Conservative candidate Christine Rankin's entry to the race has triggered the latest barrage of one-liners.

Philip Matthews (@secondzeit) offered: "A Conservative voter in Epsom would be called a Rankinphile", and Simon Wong (@wimon_song) shared his view: "Funny thing is, if Christine Rankin HAD a dog show, I feel she would have a much better chance of winning Epsom."

More serious tweets focus on the links between Epsom and other electorates.

And after Internet Party leader Laila Harre said she'd stand against John Key in Helensville, Laura McQuillan (@mcquillanatorz) tweeted: "So Harre and Key are both standing in Helensville, both live in Epsom, and both are voting Goldsmith! Sure got a lot in common."


With all this chatter about them, Epsom candidates must surely have a lot to tweet themselves. In fact, the main contenders are remarkably reticent. Act candidate David Seymour (@dbseymour) has about 700 followers but limits his Twitter activity mainly to brief responses to other users. One recent retort by Seymour to repeated criticisms from a detractor read "u need a better hobby".

National's candidate, Paul Goldsmith (@PaulGoldsmithMP), matches his intentionally low public profile with a negligible Twitter presence.

He tweets infrequently to some 850 followers. His efforts, such as "Getting hoardings up. Going very well", are unlikely to go viral.

Goldsmith does better than Conservative candidate Christine Rankin, however, who does not even seem to have a Twitter account.

What about left-wing candidates? The Greens' Julie Anne Genter (@JulieAnneGenter) is a frequent tweeter, although most of her tweets are aimed at voters in general. Genter does provide some more personal tweets from the campaign trail, including: "Whew. Great to be back at Cross Fit Mt Eden. Tonight was 5x5 deadlifts, 10 burpees, 100 jumprope. Just under 15min. Now back to campaign."

Despite having little chance of winning Epsom, Labour's Michael Wood (@michaelwoodnz) is providing some of the more interesting commentary on the race. In one tweet, made before Key announced a deal with Seymour, Wood wrote: "A haiku for ACT: Those Aristocrats! Maoris, they get everything. Now John, where's my deal?"

As an electorate contest, Epsom will ultimately be decided more by door knocking and leaflet drops than by tweets. Perhaps for that reason, it is not the Epsom candidates themselves - who are mostly bland and boring - but outside pundits who are livening up Twitter coverage of what may be an election clincher.

Otago University political experts Dr Bryce Edwards (@bryce_edwards) and Geoffrey Miller (@GeoffMillerNZ) are following the impact of Twitter on the election campaign.