Political analysts think for the first time Twitter is playing a major role in helping people decide who they'll be voting for at the polls Tuesday.
13News Now analyzed more than 6,000 tweets. We took a look at the maximum number of tweets Twitter will allow us to examine on a user's timeline. We're looking into what Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are tweeting, when and how often they're taking to Twitter and how it could affect your vote Tuesday.
What do African-Americans and Hispanics have to lose by going with me. Look at the poverty, crime and educational statistics. I will fix it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 26, 2016
Twitter might be getting as much press this election cycle, as some of the candidates vying for the presidency.
“I would argue that this election the primary way that candidates have personally communicated to the voters is through Twitter,” 13News Now Political Analyst Dr. Quentin Kidd said.
But in just 140 characters, what can Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton say?
We wrote code to scrape and analyze the Twitter data. We were able to find out the words and hashtags both candidates use most frequently.
For the democratic candidate, "Donald Trump," "Mike Pence" and "Commander-in-Chief" top the phrase list, while Clinton’s hashtags deal with the debates and conventions. They include #debates, #demsinphilly, #RNCinCle and #shewon.
On the Republican side, Trump is tweeting "Crooked Hillary," "Hillary Clinton" and "Make America Great Again," while his hashtags deal with campaign slogans and debates. Those include #MAGA, #debates, #Trump2016 and #Clinton.
Kidd believes voters can look at a Twitter feed and learn a lot about the candidates and what kind of campaigns they are running.
"Hombres"? #DebateNight— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 20, 2016
“Clinton has been far less controversial in her statements on Twitter, but that reflects her campaign and her candidacy and her as a person,” Kidd analyzed. “Donald Trump has been much more, I would say, on the edge in terms of how aggressive he's willing to be on Twitter and in some ways how profound he's willing to be on Twitter and that reflects his candidacy.”
Substantively, we wanted to know how often the candidates are tweeting about issues important to Hampton Roads voters. The data might not be what you think. Of about 6,000 tweets combined, Clinton and Trump have only tweeted about the military 26 times and about veterans 53 times. Trump has talked about the economy or jobs 85 times, compared to Clinton's 64.
The timing of tweets has made lot of headlines during this campaign season.
#WheresHillary? Sleeping!!!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2016
“I mean really, who gets up at three o'clock in the morning to engage in a Twitter attack,” Hillary Clinton said at one campaign rally.
This chart shows the times of day the candidates are tweeting. In the timeframe we looked at, Hillary Clinton has only one tweet between 11 o’clock at night and four o’clock in the morning, while Trump has almost 200 tweets during those hours.
How often Clinton and Trump are tweeting might also be surprising. Trump has an average 11 tweets per day, whereas Clinton's average is 22 per day. That's two times as many.
The "Twitterverse" "liked" Trump's tweets an average of 20,730. For Hillary Clinton, that average is 9,197. So, while she is tweeting more, his tweets are getting more than double the engagement.
“I would characterize it like this—Donald Trump's impact-per-tweet is far greater than Hillary Clinton's impact-per-tweet, meaning Trump is tweeting in a much more profound way,” Kidd explained.
So, in the grand scheme of campaigns, is Twitter is good or bad for the electoral process?
“It isn't a matter of good or bad,” Quentin told 13News Now. “It just is what it is. If one or the other was not on Twitter they would be disadvantaged.”
That might not be the case come 2020. Next time around, there could be another platform that makes it even easier for candidates to reach voters, and the election after that another technology could come along and so on and so forth. Of course, campaigns and politicos will be watching for it.
On Election Day, Kidd thinks we will likely have repeats of the candidates' closing arguments of why they should be the next president and a lot of “get out the vote” messages.