Kamala Harris (violet), Bernie Sanders (peach) and Elizabeth Warren (blue) are the candidates that Twitter continues to talk about. As the overall volume of Harris’ tweets continues to rise, Bernie is passing benchmarks set by Harris just a few weeks ago. The race is on. And people are talking about it.
The daily breakdown tells a similar story. Harris gets the lion’s share of mentions, but Sanders and Warren are capable of getting the media attention required to break through.
We see a wide range of political and factual biases this week.
Not surprisingly, though, the bulk of users are tweeting left-of-center links that are more or less credible.
One of the guiding principles at Marvelous AI is that assessing truth requires perspective. The 24-hour news cycle obscures such perspective, as do stream- and attention-based news services. Looking only at the daily up-and-down of fortunes in this battle for attentions would not only miss the point completely, but also exacerbate a problem we have set out to address. Viewed from a weekly perspective, the race is a somewhat stable three-way contest with a number of second-tier contenders.
And viewed from a monthly perspective, the race has probably not yet even begun. So this week we will start taking a closer look at what people are actually saying about the candidates.
Top 5 Retweets
Since we capture retweets, one of the details available for analysis is the number of times they occur in our corpus.1
A few retweets occur extremely often. But there are also a large number that occur thousands of times. We take a closer look at the top 5.
Top Retweet #1
The most retweeted tweet about a potential candidate this week was from former game show host Chuck Woolery.
It mentioned Eric Holder and appealed largely to a right wing audience.
Top Retweet #2
The second most common retweet this week was about Bernie Sanders and female candidates.
It was largely recirculated by users with left-of-center links and by users new to the corpus.
Top Retweet #3
The third most common tweet this week was an attack on Kamala Harris.
It was shared by users with right-of-center link patterns. Many of them are extremists.
Top Retweet #4
The fourth most retweeted tweet this week is from another celebrity. This time actor James Woods is associating the chaos in Venezuela with Bernie Sanders’ politics.
Of course, this also appealed to a largely right-wing audience that included some extremists.
Top Retweet #5
The fifth most common retweet in our corpus this week contains video of Hillary Clinton weighing in on the role of sexism in the treatment of her 2016 candidacy and the 2020 candidacy of Kamala Harris.
This tweet was shared mostly by users new to our corpus and by left-of-center users.
Sources Being Shared
We are also tracking the specific sources linked in each of the tweets in our corpus.
The most frequent this week was youtube.com and the second was yahoo.com. Drilling down into each of those is an exercise for a later date.
I Love My Freedom (dot org)
The third most frequent is ilovemyfreedom.org. I had never heard of this source, so I decided to drill down for more detail. Media Bias Fact Check certifies them as a questionable site with an extreme right bias.
And this translates directly into our bias distribution plot for users that link to them.
Certainly the stories that were popular this week are reflective of this rating. The most heavily circulated story is vague fear-mongering about Bernie Sanders and the Soviet menace.
And the second story is an attack on Eric Swalwell, motivated by his prominent role on the House Select Committee on Intelligence.
Users tweeting links to ilovemyfreedom.org mostly talked about Eric Swalwell, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Next week we will start taking a closer look at the trends in language usage associated with tweets mentioning each of these candidates.