The University of Michigan study, among the first to examine the Tea Party's social media strategies, also showed that analyzing Twitter activity can lead to good predictions of election winners.
Various social media tools have become a key part of campaign strategies in recent years. In 2010, nearly a quarter of online adults used social networks including Twitter to engage with the election.
In this study, researchers from the U-M School of Information and the College of Engineering looked at more than 460,000 tweets—three years' worth from 687 candidates running for national House, Senate and gubernatorial seats.
"The conservative candidates—Republicans and Tea Party members—definitely used Twitter more visibly and showed a more coherent set of messages and topics," said Eytan Adar, assistant professor in the School of Information and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. "They also followed each other much more closely. I think it's fair to say they were much more cohesive in a lot of ways and at the end of the day that makes for a stronger campaign."
Conservatives, who made major gains in the 2010 midterm elections, tweeted about similar topics and conveyed a coherent message with a particular attention to economic issues, the researchers found. The top terms in Republicans' posts were "spending," "bills," "budget," "WSJ" (Wall Street Journal), "Bush" and "deficit." Over the study period, Republicans tweeted an average of 723 times.
With an average of 551 tweets (text entries) during the study period, Democrats posted less frequently. Their tweets covered a wider range of topics. Top terms were "education," "jobs," "oil_spill," "clean_energy," "Afghanistan," and "reform."
The study zeroed in on the posts of self-identified Tea Party members. Despite its grassroots nature, the Tea Party appeared to be running an organized campaign. Not only did members tweet more often, averaging 901 tweets during the study period, they exhibited behaviors suggesting a stronger community than their counterparts.
Tea Party members retweeted one another more often, rebroadcasting a colleague's message an average of 82.6 times, compared with 52.3 retweets for Republicans and 40 for Democrats. They used hashtags (keywords used to categorize tweets) an average of 753 times, compared with Republicans' 404 times and Democrats' 196. The researchers suggest this may be because the Tea Party members joined forces on Twitter to attack key Democrats. Among the party's most popular terms were "Nancy Pelosi," "Barney Frank," and "Clinton."
The researchers found that overuse of Twitter might not correlate with better election performance, though."In fact over usage might even repel the targeted audience to some extent," said Avishay Livne, a doctoral student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
The study examined how Twitter behaviors could help predict election winners. By looking at the content of candidates' tweets, the number of followers they had, and whether the candidate was an incumbent, they were able to predict election outcomes with 88 percent accuracy.
"We found that candidates who are close to the middle of the network, and the middle of what is being discussed by everyone are more likely to be elected," said Lada Adamic, associate professor in the School of Information and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Adamic says the work also sheds light on how a candidate's positions correspond to his or her likelihood of being elected.
"This has been attempted in the past by looking at, for example, a candidate's past voting record or their responses to standardized surveys," Adamic said. "However, this data was frequently incomplete. It is interesting to see how candidate's activity on Twitter is connected with election outcomes."
Livne presented the findings July 19 at the International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media in Barcelona. Matthew P. Simmons, a graduate student in the School of Information, is also a co-author. The study was funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation.Contact: Nicole Casal Moore
Nicole Casal Moore | EurekAlert!
Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology