Hillary Clinton announced what many assumed to be inevitable on April 12th, a campaign for the 2016 presidential election. After voters elected Barack Obama, the first African American president, in 2008, many are excited to make 2016 another historic election by electing Clinton as the first female president. As a former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of state, she has become a household name and faces no clear challengers while several Republicans have announced campaigns for the presidency.
A variety of high-profile political and entertainment celebrities have supported Clinton throughout the years and several tweeted about her announcement on Sunday. The list includes a variety of influential women including musical artists like Carole King, Katy Perry, and Ariana Grande and Former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright.
These powerful women contributed to the 1.5 million Tweets written about Clinton over the 3 days following her announcement. While the conversation included both positive and negative responses, it remained focused on her campaign and her message.
Political campaigns can learn a lot from this early social media conversation. For instance, although Tweets were authored across the globe, there was significant variation in the number of Tweets written by country and state. While there were 6,388 Tweets per million authored in New York, there were 2,609 per million written in Nevada, a distant second, and only 851 per million written in Iowa, the home of the Iowa Caucuses.
The distribution of Twitter authors is not surprising because Affinities tell us that they are very interested in politics and news, topics that are often more popular in metropolitan areas. The Hillary audience is 149 times more interested in MSNBC, 60 times more interested in Politico, and 9 times more interested in the Guardian than the general Twitter audience. They are also significantly less interested in more mainstream topics. For example, they are ¼ as interested in ESPN, ⅓ as interested in entertainment news, and ½ as interested in fashion and science and technology than the general Twitter audience.
While it is clear that the conversation is composed of political enthusiasts, these interests and disinterest in sports and beauty do not provide clear insights into the gender composition of the audience. However, based on Tweets with identifiable gender, demographic analytics tell us that men make up 62% of the conversation and women make up 38% of the conversation.
In addition to the unexpected male majority, there are few young people contributing to the conversation. Based on Tweets with identifiable age, we see that roughly 90 percent of the conversation is made up of people over the age of 35. In contrast, young voters, people ages 18-34, make up only 6 percent of the conversation. This is particularly surprising because young people make up a large proportion of Twitter users and celebrities like Ariana Grande are more likely to draw young people into the conversation.
Although Clinton may serve as the first female U.S. president and many of the celebrities that have been vocal Hillary supporters have been women, men authored the majority of the Tweets responding to Hillary’s announcement. Similarly, although Twitter appears to be a prime platform for engaging young voters, few are participating in the conversation. As candidates enter races for the Republican and Democratic nominations, they will be vying for the female and youth votes. Getting women and young people involved in the social media conversation may help Clinton and fellow candidates increase support in potentially less vocal but no less important populations.