Local Candidate Engagement on Twitter: Election 2016

Local Candidate Engagement on Twitter: Election 2016

I lay there trying to keep my eyes shut, but my brain had completely woken up. The idea that Social Media was changing elections nationally and how it was impacting the state election kept running through my brain. I already had the code written to extract and analyze Twitter data. I dissected #netDE tweets a few months ago. At the moment, I was interested in how the Twitter community was interacting with the Delaware state election. I got out of bed, and went to our computer to see what the trends were.

His husky early morning voice pierced the crisp, silent air. I tried to ignore his alert presence and deep thinking sigh by pulling the sheets up to my ears and rolling to the edge of the bed. No such luck. He was wide eyed and deep in thought, and we both knew it. “Are you going for a run?” I asked. He replied, “Nope. it’s 4AM.” WHAT?! This is about the time I donkey kicked him to the floor and commenced feathering my sheet nest. Just kidding. I love his ideas, even if they bubble up and wake us both before dawn.

Initially, I had illusions that there would be thousands of mentions related to the Delaware Governor Race. However, when I updated the code and ran the API there were fewer than 100 tweets mentioning the candidates. After some reflection, Lynsey and decided to analyze Senator Bonini and Representative Carney’s activity. So I pulled the activity and gave it to Lynsey to write up. Check our her post. But I still couldn’t stop thinking about the mentions which represent the interaction of the candidates with the public on Twitter. So here it is:

There were a total of 156 tweets that mentioned either @colinbonini, @johncarneyDE, @john_carney, #colinforchange, Colin Bonini or Representative Carney. The first chart shows the number of mentions for each candidate over the past seven days. The large spike for both candidates was on the day of the debate. Other than that, Representative Carney gets a few more mentions than Mr. Bonini and both have had an uptick in the past two days. days.png

I also want to highlight whether or not the mentions were original tweets or retweets. The data show that accounts sharing Carney’s posts were more likely to retweet content than those individuals mentioning Bonini. This trend is most likely a reflection of the fact that Carney has many more followers than Bonini. tort

The final two charts are an attempt to look at how the race is being mentioned on twitter. The first is a word cloud of all the tweets collected in this analysis. As we have mentioned before the larger the word the more frequently it was used. jcwcMentions.png

Finally, I looked at the comparison of sentiment from both sets of tweets that mentioned either candidate. You can see that for the most part the accounts mentioning these two were generally positive.


So what does this mean? As we are wrapping up the election and getting closer to November 8, Delawareans do not appear to be engaging with the candidates on twitter. After analyzing the way the two candidates utilize twitter, we found that they might not be encouraging the public to interact with them successfully. By following, retweeting and replying to more constituents, fellow politicians and other community influencers, the candidates would increase online conversation and create an authentic engagement with their followers…and likely attract more.



What content and conversation do you expect from your local government candidates on social media? How powerful of an influence do you think social media has had on this election as a whole?

Data Dan Larson is a data enthusiast who loves problem solving. He looks for ways to utilize data to optimize the world around. He’s also a papa who loves relating his findings back to life as a modern parent.

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