Political Behavior on Twitter among U.S. adults


Those people ages 50 and more mature produce 78% of all political tweets from U.S. grown ups


Pew Analysis Centre conducted this examine to achieve perception into Twitter users’ political engagement, attitudes and behaviors on the system. For this analysis, we surveyed 2,548 U.S. grownup Twitter people in May well 2021 about their activities on the web site, as perfectly as how they engage with politics exterior of Twitter. Every person who took part in this study is a member of the Center’s American Tendencies Panel (ATP) – an on the net study panel that is recruited through countrywide, random sampling of residential addresses – and indicated that they use Twitter. 

In addition to the study conclusions, scientists from the Center also examined the true Twitter profiles of a subset of study contributors who agreed to share their handles for investigation uses. 1st, scientists gathered all of the publicly obvious tweets posted among May possibly 2020 and May 2021 by these consumers. Researchers then applied a equipment learning classifier to determine which of people tweets stated politics or political ideas. Second, they collected a random sample of 2,859 accounts adopted by at minimum a person of these buyers – as effectively as all of the accounts followed by 20 or far more respondents – and manually categorized them into diverse substantive groups based mostly on their profile info. For more data on the distinct methods utilized in this assessment, see the report methodology.

Below are the queries used for the report, alongside with responses, and its methodology.

Approximately a single-quarter of American adults use Twitter. And when they share their views on the site, pretty often they are undertaking so about politics and political challenges. A new Pew Analysis Middle investigation of English-language tweets posted involving May well 1, 2020, and May 31, 2021, by a representative sample of U.S. grownup Twitter end users finds that fully 1-third (33%) of those tweets are political in mother nature.

Echoing the Center’s conclusions in its prior scientific tests of tweeting conduct, whether political or otherwise, the vast vast majority of these political tweets are created by a minority of customers. And selected demographic teams are specially active contributors to the all round quantity of political content on Twitter. Most notably, Us citizens ages 50 and more mature make up 24% of the U.S. adult Twitter population but make virtually 80% of all political tweets. And 36% of the tweets generated by the usual (median) U.S. grownup Twitter consumer age 50 or more mature include political content, around 5 moments the share (7%) for the tweets from the common 18- to 49-yr-previous.

Chart showing those ages 50 and older produce roughly half of all tweets from U.S. adult Twitter users – and 78% of all political tweets

More broadly, Individuals who tweet the most about politics vary in various ways from all those for whom politics is a much less central subject of discussion. These “high-volume” political tweeters are substantially much more likely than other users to say that they use Twitter to express their own viewpoints (67% vs. 34%) that they chat about politics with other people at the very least as soon as a 7 days (53% vs. 33%) that they contributed to a political campaign in the last 12 months (46% vs. 21%) or that they participate in politics since they take pleasure in it, as opposed to viewing it as a civic obligation (27% vs. 14%).

At the exact same time, a much larger share of these politically vocal buyers say the individuals they comply with on Twitter have equivalent political sights to their possess (45% vs. 25%). And even with – or potentially mainly because of – their frequent forays into the world of political tweeting, all those who tweet the most about politics are actually less likely than other consumers to say that Twitter is an efficient way to get individuals to change their minds about political or social problems. Just 34% of the most lively political tweeters truly feel this way, compared with 50 percent of those who tweet much less about politics. 

This examination builds on the Center’s prior exploration on political material on Twitter, which identified relevant content material employing somewhat strict, keyword-based mostly techniques. For instance, our 2019 examination of politics on Twitter targeted on conversations of politics at the national degree and categorized tweets as political in nature only if they “mention[ed] or categorical[ed] assist or opposition towards national politicians or elected officials, political parties, ideological teams or political establishments, or certain political behaviors like voting.” This definition excluded mentions of condition or community politics and politicians, as very well as conversations of plan problems and latest situations that carry a political valence but do not explicitly reference national political figures or teams.

This new assessment identifies political content material with much more nuance and subtlety. Scientists at the Center educated a supervised device finding out classifier on an qualified-validated collection of tweets that human coders had examine and classified in accordance to whether or not or not they referenced political officials and activists, social issues, or news and existing events. This classifier was then capable to understand the textual designs and conditions that lead human audience to realize a tweet as “about politics” and recognize these styles in tweets that humans experienced not earlier coded. With a broader definition of political content material and a much more flexible classifier, this assessment more comprehensively demonstrates the assortment and diversity of political dialogue as it occurs on platforms like Twitter. Not astonishingly specified these definitional variances, the current assessment identifies a larger sized share of tweets as political in nature.

Among the the other big findings of this examination of the political qualities, attitudes and online behaviors of U.S. older people on Twitter:

Chart showing Retweets and quote tweets are especially likely to reference politics

Retweets and estimate tweets are more likely to incorporate political written content than first tweets. This investigation of a person calendar year of tweets from a representative sample of U.S. adult Twitter users finds that sure types of tweets are much more likely than others to include political articles. Roughly 4-in-ten retweets (44%) and estimate tweets (42%) from these customers have been identified to pertain to politics. But that share falls to 26% for replies – and to just 8% for original tweets.

Democrats and Republicans who use Twitter have various political encounters on the web site. A larger sized share of Democrats than Republicans (like political independents who “lean” toward either party) say they have tweeted about political or social troubles in the 30 times preceding the study (30% vs. 17%). And a more substantial share of Democrats say that Twitter is extremely efficient at elevating public recognition about political or social concerns (28% vs. 17%). 

Americans from each celebration also report seeing various types of political information on the website. Democrats who use Twitter are 2 times as most likely as Republicans to say they typically follow accounts with related political beliefs to their very own (40% vs. 20%) or that they disagree with several or none of the tweets they see (33% vs. 16%).

But some Twitter behaviors cross get together strains. Notably, an identical share of Democrats and Republicans on Twitter (17%) say they tweeted about sports activities in the 30 times preceding the survey.

Chapter showing one-in-five accounts followed by a large number of U.S. adults are politicians and government figures

Political figures make up 20% of the accounts adopted by a substantial amount of U.S. grownups. Politicians, federal government figures, public offices, and public officers make up just 1% of all the accounts adopted by this representative sample of U.S. adult Twitter end users. But these entities are much far more common among the most-followed accounts: Fully 20% of the accounts adopted by at minimum 20 individual respondents drop into this group. Media organizations and journalists, as perfectly as coverage or advocacy companies, are also notably more commonplace in the accounts that are broadly followed by U.S. older people on Twitter.

“Twitter-only” political engagement is relatively unusual. The Center’s study questioned about a wide range of political behaviors that buyers may well acquire, both of those on Twitter (this kind of as tweeting about a political or social problem) and off (these as voting or contributing funds to a marketing campaign). The extensive the greater part of Twitter buyers engaged in at least 1 of these pursuits in the preceding 12 months. By significantly the largest share – 58% – engaged each on Twitter and somewhere else, and a different 34% took section only in non-Twitter initiatives. Just 3% of U.S. grownup Twitter buyers say they took some sort of political or civic motion on Twitter in the previous 12 months but did not do so outside the system.

Customers say political information makes up a larger share of what they see than of what they publish. Some 41% of U.S. adult Twitter end users say that a good deal of what they see on Twitter is linked to political or social issues. But just 12% say a good deal of what they them selves submit is associated to these subject areas.


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