Who would have thought that Twitter could so accurately reflect real life, even when it comes to politics? When I think of Republicans, I think of older Americans who are well-off and conservative at best and older Americans who shoot guns, hate change and who would still communicate via the Federalist papers if they could at worst.
All of those may be true, but according to a new study from the University of Michigan, they’ve got the left side beat when it comes to Tweets.
Eytan Adar, assistant professor in the School of Information and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, led a small team of researchers in dissecting tweets from almost 700 candidates in the 3.5 years leading up to the 2010 midterm elections for Federal House and Senate seats as well as gubernatorial campaigns. They looked for common combinations of words, the use of hashtags, retweeting and mentioning other candidates, and the links to webpages contained within the tweets.
Once the software finished zipping through the words and crunching the numbers, a surprising result came out. Republicans – and especially those identifying with the Tea Party – threw out more tweets across the country, had a more consistent message and backed each other up more often. What’s more, it seems that this trend led to more successful campaigns. The researchers could create an algorithm that took into account several of these Twitter variables and predict who won the race with an 88% accuracy level.
I said this was surprising, but is it really? It always seems to me that the right is screaming about one or two things in a very loud and obnoxious voice while the left can’t seem to agree on anything, much less what to complain about. If they could get their shit together and act as one organization, perhaps they’d have better luck when – oh I don’t know – they have a super-majority and the presidency at the same time.
Then again, the study didn’t really look at content, just how related the topics in the tweets were. It could be that the Republicans were misusing Twitter by throwing out way too many tweets and annoying the hell out of their followers. It could be that their messages were so coherent because all they did was attack Democrats already in office.
It could be…