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 tweet analysis, Margolin and his collaborator, Yu-Ru Lin of the University of Pittsburgh, found that party fractures have healed throughout the Democratic National Convention – culminating in an unparalleled unity in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s speech.

Margolin says:

“According to the patterns of tweets sent by those who initially favored Hillary and those who initially resisted her, the fractures in the party healed over the past week and the Democrats are now unified behind Hillary.

“Hillary received relatively positive tweets from five out of six groups during and after her speech. Among these were even the previously recalcitrant ‘Hillary Dumpers.’ In fact, oddly, the only group that did not show a significant tendency to use more positive language when talking about her was the loyal Defectors to Hillary. They also sent a small number of tweets during the speech, perhaps because they were focusing on her instead of their second screen.

“Many tweets mentioned key lines from Hillary’s speech. Most prominent was her ‘A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man you can trust with nuclear weapons.’ Portions of this phrase appeared in about 1 out of 70 tweets by each of four groups, including the ‘Bernie Holdouts’ and the ‘Hillary Defectors.’ By contrast, Trump’s top phrases – “build the wall” (appearing in 1 in 145 tweets) and “make America great again” (1 in 165) – received less attention from even his most loyal supporters.

“The data here would suggest that Clinton would get a bounce larger than Trump from the conventions.”

The Twitter groups Margolin is studying throughout the Democratic presidential primary:

  • 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 Thursday and the previous nights of the Democratic National Convention, as well as last week’s Republican National Convention, can be found at http://cornellcals.tumblr.com/tagged/Election-2016-Tweets.
Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.
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