Twitter opinion analysis shows change in sentiment following ‘Tea Party Tuesday’
Our analysis of political opinions expressed by Twitter users shows that the ‘enthusiasm gap’ that previously favored the GOP over the Democratic Party seems to have evened out recently.
Our last analysis of the Twitter sentiment data provided by market research firm Crimson Hexagon indicated that while there were similar numbers of tweets criticizing both political parties, there were many more pro-GOP tweets posted on the social networking service than pro-Democratic ones – a result in line with what some saw as a lack of enthusiasm among Democratic voters as the midterms approached.
Since that analysis there have been two changes in the trends we’ve been seeing. The first was a divergence in the “anti” numbers with anti-Democratic sentiment far outweighing anti-GOP. This trend was most pronounced in late August – a period that coincided with the controversy surrounding the planned cultural center and mosque near the Ground Zero site in downtown Manhattan.
While anti numbers diverged during this period, the pro-party tweets held to largely the same pattern they had previously, with pro-GOP tweets outnumbering pro-Democratic ones. You can see all of these trends in the chart below.
In recent days though there’s been a change in the look of the graph. As the mosque story faded in prominence the anti numbers seem to have returned to their previous parity – with both sides trading the lead back and forth.
There’s been a major change in the pro-party sentiments however. The number of pro-Democratic tweets has risen enough to erase the gap between the parties. If these results hold they would mark the the dissipation of the enthusiasm gap we saw previously.
The beginning of this change in the graph is heralded by a spike in pro-Democratic tweets on Sep. 15th. This date also marked a dramatic surge in political tweets in general, with Crimson Hexagon reporting over 67,000 politics-related tweets on that day compared to a daily average of about 21,000 the week before.
Interestingly the 15th was the day following “Tea Party” candidate Christine O’Donnell’s defeat of establishment candidate Michael Castle in Delaware’s Republican Senate primary. O’Donnell’s victory, one of several by Tea Party upstarts in recent Republican primaries, was seen by many as marking the rise to prominence of the Tea Party movement within the Republican party.
The rise of the Tea Party has led to Democratic arguments that the GOP has been taken over by extremists, giving them hope moderates and independent voters who are sour on Democrats will not find Republicans to be a suitable alternative in November.
The increase in pro-Democratic tweets since O’Donnell’s election could suggest that the rise of the conservative Tea Party has riled up the previously apathetic Democratic base, leading them to express a renewed faith in their own party.
Whatever the reason, an average of results since O’Donnell’s win shows that the rise in pro-Democratic tweets has evened out the sentiment numbers, with tweets leaning to each side numbering 50 percent of the total.
We’ll keep our eye out and let you know how things develop.