Look Who’s Talking

Whose followers tweet more about this election, Trump’s or Clinton’s?

by Andrew Heyward, Uzra Khan and Soroush Vosoughi

It turns out Donald Trump is not the only one with an itchy Twitter finger — his followers are also eager tweeters. And even though you might think that Trump’s stumbles since the conventions would energize Clinton’s followers, his troubles have actually widened the Twitter gap in Trump’s favor.

Electome, a set of algorithms developed at MIT’s Laboratory for Social Machines (part of the Media Lab), uses the full output of Twitter to analyze the social-media conversation around Election 2016.

We wondered whose unique followers– people who follow that candidate and no other — generate the largest share of election-related tweets.

Both Trump and Clinton have millions of unique followers — together, the two groups account for about 20% of all the election-related tweets Electome captures. Let’s think about that for a minute — a fifth of all conversation about the election on Twitter comes from people who don’t want to listen to any other candidate but one.

But whose followers are more active on any given day? Here’s how Electome sees it:

Trump has 1.4 X as many unique followers as Clinton. So whenever the share of election tweets by Only-Trumps (OTs) exceeds the share by Only-Clintons (OCs) by more than 1.4 X, Trump followers are out-performing Clinton followers. Conversely, whenever the ratio is less than 1.4 X, the OCs are tweeting above their weight.

This chart traces the relative shares from July 18th, just before the Republican Convention, to this week (August 10th). Every time the jagged line dips into blue, Clinton’s followers are beating the ratio and therefore out-tweeting Trump’s. When it’s red, Trump’s followers are out-performing Clinton’s.

You can see that Clinton’s unique followers out-tweeted Trump’s a few times, — notably three bumps: 1) on July 19th and 20th, 2) on July 22nd (two of the four days of the RNC and the day after); and 3) on July 28th and 29th (the day of Clinton’s acceptance speech at the DNC and the day after). On the 29th, when the OTs generated 12% of the election-related tweets, the OCs nearly closed the gap altogether despite being outnumbered — reaching a share of just under 11%.

But that’s it. Look at the relative share of Only-Trumps in August, which have been some of the worst days of the Trump campaign according to polls— about double the election-related tweets of Only-Clintons.

It reminds us of the old high school cheer:

“We’re for TRUMP, and no one could be prouder.
And if you don’t believe us, we’ll yell a little louder!”

Andrew Heyward is a visiting researcher at the MIT Media Lab’s Laboratory for Social Machines . Uzra Khan, a recent graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, is spending the summer as a project manager there. Prashanth Vijayaraghavan, a researcher at the Laboratory for Social Machines, helped develop the analytics for this post.

Photo Credit: Associated Press