Twitter opinion analysis shows midterm ‘enthusiasm gap’
In order to gauge the mood of voters as the midterms approach, Reuters has joined with market research company Crimson Hexagon to conduct a detailed assessment of the political mood as expressed by Twitter users. As a first step in this process we’re taking a look at the feeling expressed by Twitter users toward the Democratic and Republican parties in general.
This analysis is similar to one we conducted during the British general election earlier this year that showed changes in Twitter sentiment immediately following television debates and candidate gaffes that were echoed in opinion polls conducted days after the events.
In life, it often seems that people are more likely to speak up with criticism rather than praise. Our numbers show this is true on Twitter as well, with negative tweets about parties more common than positive ones. As you can see from the graph below, over the last nine days, roughly similar numbers of Twitter users have had something bad to say about both political parties:
When it comes to positive sentiments though there is a difference. Our data show that for much of the last nine days there were nearly twice as many pro-Republican tweets than pro-Democratic ones. There has been a bit of a bump in pro-Democratic sentiment in the last two days, but as you can see in the chart below the difference is clear.
With negative sentiment running neck-and-neck, this gap in positive sentiment suggests a disadvantage for the Democrats. As the breakdown below shows, sentiment favoring the Republican party (Anti-Dem + Pro-GOP) is at 55 percent compared to 45 percent for Democratic-leaning sentiment.
This analysis is consistent with a recent Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll that showed an “enthusiasm gap” between the two parties, with 72 percent of Republicans certain that they will vote in November compared to 49 percent of Democrats. In a midterm election where turnout is traditionally low, this gap could be a decisive factor in dozens of races nationwide that will decide whether Democrats hold their majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate.
As the midterm campaigns progress we’ll continue our analysis of sentiment on Twitter and let you know what we find.