US Lawmakers Turn to Twitter to Hear Public Voice on Syria

Public voice on Syria interventionOn Saturday August 31, 2013, President Obama announced that he would seek authorization for military action from Congress. Swiftly, members turned to Twitter to solicit the public’s input on whether or not to pursue military action in Syria.

Measuring the aggregate voice on military force in Syria, we find sustained conversation on Twitter over several days of heated debate, with an increasing proportion of tweets directly addressing the question of whether or not the United States should take military action.
From August 31 – September 4, we used ForSight to identify and analyze over half a million (531,500) tweets about Congressional authorization of military intervention in Syria.
Volume of public voice
Over these five days, many tweets share news without opinions or attitudes expressed. If we exclude tweets without opinions and focus on opinionated tweets, we find that over the five-day period, 27% of tweets call for or advocate military action, and 34% of tweets advocate for the US to refrain from military intervention in Syria. Additionally, 27% of tweets criticize President Obama for the way he is handling the situation and for asking Congress to authorize military action.
Syria Intervention public voice opinion
Nationwide, the conversation on Twitter is driven more by men (72%) than by women (28%).
Opinion Gender on Syria Intervention
Political Voice on Syria Topic Wheel
Focusing on September 3 and 4, when debate started in earnest on Capitol Hill, we see that tweets advocating for or against military action increases as a proportion of the conversation, with 46% advocating action and 47% advocating no action. Only a handful of tweets, comparatively, comment on the way President Obama and Congress are handling the decision.
Syria Intervention Opinion Analysis on Public Voice
Over half a million tweets address the decision, now resting with Congress, whether the US military should intervene in Syria, and an increasing proportion of the conversation is weighing in and voicing opinion on this decision. Public opinion voiced on Twitter is currently split on whether or not the United States should pursue military action in Syria at this time.
The American people, it is clear, use Twitter to voice political sentiment, and lawmakers know to engage with constituents and the public on this social media platform.
We will keep monitoring the situation as the debates in Washington continue. To learn move on how social sentiment impacts political opinion, read our political election study.

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