Pew analyzed over 1.1 million tweets from a random sample of 2,427 U.S. adults between June 8, 2018, and this past June 9, and it found that 97% of tweets from that group that mentioned national politics came from just 10% of the people in the group.
Pew Research Center
The think tank defined national politics as mentions of national politicians, institutions or groups, as well as civic behaviors, such as voting.
Pew found that while content explicitly related to those issues accounted for just 13% of the tweets it analyzed, 39% of those users tweeted on those topics at least once.
Disapproval of President Donald Trump drove people to their smartphones and keyboards, as Pew found that members of the test group who shared that sentiment were behind 80% of all tweets and 72% of tweets mentioning national politics.
Meanwhile, those who approve of Trump churned out 11% of overall tweets and 25% of national politics tweets, meaning that strong disapprovers and approvers of the president were responsible for 97% of all tweets mentioning national politics.
According to Pew, 55% of U.S. adults on Twitter strongly disapprove of Trump, compared with just 48% of the general public, while 15% of Twitter users strongly approve of the president, versus 29% of the public overall.
Pew Research Center
Other findings by Pew included:
- Americans 65 and older produce just 10% of tweets from U.S. adults, but they are behind 33% of national politics-related tweets. Those numbers are 29% and 73%, respectively, for those 50 and older. Meanwhile, U.S. Twitter users between the ages of 18 and 29 are responsible for 20% of all tweets from U.S. adults but just 4% of political tweets.
- Political tweeters—which Pew defined as people who tweeted at least five times overall and at least twice about national politics during the test period—were nearly twice as likely as other Twitter users to say people they follow on the social network share similar political beliefs to their own. Pew said 38% of political tweeters indicated this, compared with about one of every five nonpolitical tweets (tweeted at least five times during the study period with no more than one national politics tweet).
- Partisanship reigns on the social network, particularly among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, as 51% of them who tweet about national politics gave a rating of “very cold” to Democrats on a “feeling thermometer” scale.
- 35% of national political tweeters said they contacted an elected official within the past year, versus 14% of nonpolitical tweeters and 21% of infrequent tweeters.
- 57% of U.S. Twitter users believe the news they see on social media sites is largely inaccurate, while 41% see it as largely accurate. Those figures are 51% and 48%, respectively, for political tweeters.