Rethinking the Twittersphere

We dug deep into a recent Pew Research Study2 and NYT1 analysis of Twitter users in light of the challenges that many down-ballot campaigns face in resource allocation. In reality, Twitter users actually represent a small portion of Americans and more specifically, only a fraction1 of Democrats.

Who are the Twitter Users?

Twitter users are younger, more liberal and more affluent than most of our target Democratic voters and certainly more so than our persuasion voter audience; and people of color are very underrepresented.

  • More Democrats are on Twitter. 36% of Twitter Users identify as Democrat, while only 30% of U.S. adults identify as Democrat. The Democrats on Twitter are also more liberal (53%) than Democrats who post political content on other platforms (29%).
  • Democrats of Color are Underrepresented on Twitter. whites and African Americans who are Democrats are also distorted when it comes to their activity on Twitter. On Twitter, 71% of Democrats are white, while 11% are African American. Nationally, African Americans make up 22% of the Democratic Party and whites only 55%.
  • Twitter users are younger than the electorate as a whole. The average age of Twitter users is 40, and 47 for the rest of the United States. The U.S. population is about evenly split between being younger or older than 50, but for Twitter users, a person is about 3 times as likely to be younger than 50.
  • Twitter users are more affluent and better educated. 42% of Twitter users have at least a bachelor’s degree, while the same is true for only 11% of the total population.  41% of Twitter users make over $75,000, while only 32% of Americans overall make this amount.

Twitter is better for targeting activists and leaders, while Facebook reaches a broader spectrum.

Research conducted by the Pew Research Center3 found that adults who use Facebook is a better representation of the American public compared to that of Twitter. To be sure, Twitter works well among the more liberal youth, who often reside in more urban districts and it’s a great tool for communicating with opinion leaders/activists.  When it comes to reaching out to a wider base of Americans, Facebook would be the stronger option; Twitter would be more of a subsequent course of action.  Our advice to down-ballot candidates on a budget is to get the basics first—website, Facebook, SEO, first, then look at Twitter.

% More likely to be on Facebook than Twitter Difference 

U.S. Adults                   47%

18-29-year-olds:           41%

50-64-year-olds:           51%

African Americans:       46%

Hispanics:                     44%

<$30,000:                      49%

$75,000+:                      43%

High School or less:      48%

College+:                       42%

 

 

1 Lerer, L. (2019, April 11). Twitter Is a Big Deal in Politics. That Doesn't Make It Right. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/11/us/politics/on-politics-twitter-democrats.html

2 Wojcik, S., & Hughes, A. (2019, April 24). How Twitter Users Compare to the General Public. Retrieved from https://www.pewinternet.org/2019/04/24/sizing-up-twitter-users/

3 Perrin, A., & Anderson, M. (2019, April 10). Share of U.S. adults using social media, including Facebook, is mostly unchanged since 2018. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/04/10/share-of-u-s-adults-using-social-media-including-facebook-is-mostly-unchanged-since-2018/

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