Tonight, the next President of the United States will be elected.
For months, the American public — willingly or not — has been subjected to a series of barn burner moments that have made this election cycle one of the most contentious in history. Many of these moments have played out on Twitter, where our two candidates have publicly expressed themselves in very different ways.
For instance, here is a tweet sent out by Hillary Clinton yesterday afternoon:
By contrast, here is one sent out by Donald Trump:
I decided to look at 2,000 tweets — or 260,000 characters — from both Clinton and Trump, ranging a data period of 6 months (from March to August 2016). What follows is a story of two dramatically different presidential candidates: one who has almost exclusively communicated through insults and media appearances, and the other, who has focused on positive change and political action.
(Note: While Trump operated his own Twitter account during the period of tweets I analyzed, the New York Times reports his aides have since taken over it. Clinton primarily uses a social media team — but for the purposes of this analysis, I assume everything on @HillaryClinton to reflect Clinton's own opinion and voice.)
Clinton is a lot more positive than Trump
I ran a sentiment analysis — a tool that uses natural language processing to determine if a statement is negative, neutral, or positive — on both Trump and Clinton's tweets.
Nearly half of everything Trump writes is negative in context; only about a quarter is positive. Clinton's Twitter tells a different story.
While Trump has devoted much of his social space to insults, Clinton tends to discuss the brighter implications of policies and current events.
This especially shines through when looking at word choice. Below, I've compiled the 30 adjectives most frequently used by each candidate. Each is highlighted by its overall sentiment, based on the context in which it is primarily used:
Sixty percent of Trump's top-used adjectives are negative in sentiment. While his positive words are about as basic as you can get ("good," "great," "nice"), his lexicon quadruples when throwing shade.
In comparison, 20 percent of Clinton's adjectives are negative. While most of Trump's words are insults, hers are policy-related: "affordable," "equal," "progressive," "presidential."
Clinton tweets a lot about the White House
On Saturday Night Live and in other satire, Clinton is often portrayed as a politician who desperately wants to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
A look at her most commonly used phrases validates the truth in this:
While Trump repeatedly markets his television appearances to his followers (he uses "I will be interviewed" almost as many times as his campaign slogan), Clinton's tweets read like the manicured politician she is.
She repeats "in the White House" 11 times, like some sort of achievement mantra. She also reminds the Twittersphere of the political action they must take ("we need to," "we have to"), frequently conjures presidential imagery ("we need a president who [x]"), and provides resources to find polling centers.
Clinton also tweets a lot at the White House:
Trump has remained laser-focused on the media, and has been handsomely rewarded for it: The New York Times estimates he has collected more than $2 billion in free press over the course of the election. Clinton, who "hates the press," has turned to her experience and wonkiness instead (columnist David Brooks has called her a human policy brief).
This explains why 9 of the top 10 accounts Trump tweets at are media-related, and nine of the top 10 accounts Clinton tweets at are political — the likes of Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Gabby Giffords, and the GOP.
But perhaps most telling are the candidates' policy-related tweets. I filtered through each candidate's account, pulling out certain policy keywords. (Education, for instance, includes mentions of "education," "students," "Common Core," and other related terminology).
Trump only tops Clinton in three categories: terrorism (he uses the word "ISIS" 40 times), immigration, and jobs/economy.
Clinton not only addresses policy more than Trump does, but also possesses a much wider depth in what she chooses to discuss. She handily outranks him in discussing guns, health care, education, and foreign policy.
What this data shows us is two presidential hopefuls rooted in entirely different worlds: One is interested in name-calling, dwelling on the negative, and hoarding media attention, and the other wants to talk about policy.
Tonight, we'll see which voice the American people believe in.