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In presidential campaign, Twitter was a powerful political tool

Sharon Gaudin | Nov. 9, 2016
Twitter reports 1 billion election-related tweets since August 2015.

Another of Trump’s most retweeted tweets was a comment he made about climate change, saying, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

As for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, two of her most popular tweets were about Trump.

One came on June 9, when she tweeted, “Delete your account,” a slam to her opponent. Twitter said it was the most retweeted tweet of the entire election.

Another came on Sept. 26, when Clinton tweeted, “ "I never said that." —Donald Trump, who said that. #debatenight.”

“The election is dominating many people's thoughts and a lot of discussions so I’m not surprised by the Twitter use,” said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. “People are also using Facebook, but Twitter is better for rapid responses. People tweet about what is happening now, and what is on their minds. Also, Twitter has become a major communications channel for the campaigns.”

While Gottheil said both campaigns have used Twitter well to get out there messages, Trump largely built his persona on it.

“His tweets were a direct line between him and his core supporters, and his core supporters retweeted, replied, and commented, building the movement,” he said. “I think Twitter was what brought Trump supporters together, gave them permission to express things they might not otherwise share in public, and built a movement out of millions of disparate people.”

Trump also used Twitter to go after his opponents and critics, garnering negative attention for some of his more vitriolic tweets.

“I think [Trump's] use of Twitter ultimately hurt him,” said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. “He’s viewed by some as a loose cannon and too unstable to be president. He took to Twitter with some crazy tweets, proving the point. Republicans, by definition, are conservative, and his use of Twitter was most certainly not.”

But Gottheil said Trump’s use of Twitter helped galvanize his political image as a fighter.

Twitter was Trump’s most powerful tool, he added.

“Even if it sometimes backfired on him, it also kept motivating the base and sometimes amplified his message,” Gottheil said. “He's a great Twitter stylist.”

As for the most tweeted issues, foreign affairs has the most, garnering 50 million tweets; there were 29 million tweets on terorrism, 25 million on the U.S. economy, 19 million on gun issues and 18 million on cybersecurity.


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