Kaine mocks Trump’s ‘Believe me’; hashtags go wild

Drew Margolin, a professor of communication at Cornell University who studies human dynamics through social media, has been tracking how the electorate reacts to presidential candidates on Twitter since the beginning of the primaries. Using a new method of real-time analysis, Margolin and his collaborator, Yu-Ru Lin of the University of Pittsburgh, say Biden and Kaine received the most positive attention from Twitter followers last night at the Democratic Convention.

Margolin says:“The response to Biden was most impressive. Biden spoke before the major networks primetime coverage began at 10 p.m., yet still received about 5 percent of the tweets from our groups. The attention was also decidedly positive. In 5 out of 6 groups, tweets that mentioned Biden contained relatively more positive language. In particular, Biden received positive tweets from both Hillary Dumpers – people who switched their Twitter following from Hillary to Sanders – and the Defectors to Hillary – who switched the other way. The only group where Biden was not tweeted positively to statistically significant degree was the Bernie Holdouts.

“Tim Kaine was also received positively by the Bernie Holdouts. In fact, Kaine was tweeted with relatively positive language in 4 out of 6 groups, including the Hillary Avoiders – people who had dropped their original Democrat but not yet followed Hillary. Only the two groups that used to follow Hillary, but dropped her (Hillary Dumpers and Candidate Avoiders), showed a neutral rather than positive sentiment toward Kaine. He was mentioned in about 4 percent of tweets on average across the groups.

“What made Kaine so effective? A quick clue can be drawn from the response to his mocking Trump’s tendency to say ‘believe me.’ Across all of our groups, this phrase appeared in 63 tweets, more than the anti-candidate hashtags. The phrase was tweeted substantially by both groups loyal to and resistant to Hillary, and was used quite frequently relative to the attention Kaine got overall.”

The Twitter groups Margolin is studying throughout the convention:

  • Defectors to Hillary: People who started out with another Democrat, but now follow Hillary
  • Hillary Dumpers: People who started out with Hillary, now follow another candidate instead (almost always Sanders)
  • Hillary Avoiders: People who started out with another Democrat, dumped them, don't (yet) follow Hillary
  • Candidate Avoiders: People who started out with Hillary, now follow no Democratic candidates
  • Hillary Accepters: People who started out following Sanders and now also follow Hillary
  • Bernie Holdouts: People who started out following Sanders and still don't follow Hillary

NOTE: More data and analysis from the last three nights of the Democratic National Convention can be found at http://cornellcals.tumblr.com/tagged/Election-2016-Tweets.
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