He may not have as many followers as Barack Obama but there’s no doubt that Donald Trump is the first Twitter president. He uses the platform to make policy announcements, political attacks, fire senior advisers, and bask in the chaos of replies and retweets. As it turns out, Twitter also happens to be a platform mostly made up of his adversaries.
Some 55 percent of US adults on Twitter strongly disapprove of the president, according to new data from Pew Research Center — 7 percentage points higher than those who strongly disapprove of him on a national level. (22 percent of US adults use Twitter.)
This group of people is also incredibly vocal on Twitter.
Those who strongly disapprove of Trump are responsible for 80 percent of all tweets in the US and 72 percent of tweets about national politics in the last year. The 15 percent of those on Twitter who strongly approve of Trump — much lower than the 29 percent who strongly approve nationwide — produced 11 percent of all tweets and 25 percent of tweets about national politics. Unsurprisingly, those who strongly approve or disapprove of Trump are more likely to be tweeting about national politics than those without as strong opinions about Trump in the first place.
A vast majority — 97 percent — of national politics tweets came from just 10 percent of the most active Twitter users (of all political persuasions), the survey found.
That isn’t to say politics is the only thing they talk about or that these topics dominate the overall Twitter conversation. National politics tweets represented just 13 percent of all tweets.
Note that this data doesn’t show retweets or how popular a tweet is and how far it travels, but rather shows that the most frequent political discourse is wielded by the most ardently political. However, the fact that Twitter is dominated by people who disagree with the president might provide more fodder for conservatives, who have incorrectly accused the company of blocking conservative users and other political bias.
Older Americans over-indexed as political tweeters, with those 50 and older producing 29 percent of all tweets but 73 percent of national politics tweets. Those ages 18-29 produced 20 percent of tweets but just 4 percent of national politics tweets.
The study also suggests that Twitter politics don’t exist in a vacuum. Those who tweeted about national politics were more likely to engage in real-world political actions, like contacting an elected official, attending a political rally, or donating money, than nonpolitical tweeters.
For the study, Pew surveyed 2,427 US adults with Twitter accounts who were willing to have researchers follow their Twitter activity. Pew used machine learning to classify their 1.1 million tweets over the course of a year as relating to national politics or not.