Examining Demographic Trends in Political Opinion on Twitter: The Case of Gun Control

Nina Cesare, University of Washington
Hedwig Lee, University of Washington

This project leverages Twitter data to examine demographic patterning in how people share opinions about gun control. Using semi-automated text analysis techniques and methods of extracting key demographic variables - specifically age, race, and gender - to Twitter data, we expand upon existing research that highlights the importance of social media data as a tool for tracking the “pulse” of public opinion. Using as our focus gun control, we examine word frequencies, consistency in vocabulary usage and indications of engagement in user-to-user communication to provide an illustration of how users across different demographic characteristics view the issue of gun control and use Twitter to discuss this topic. This project serves to expand our understanding of the ways in which political opinions and patterns of discussion intersect and diverge across demographic groups and as well as provide a scalable toolkit for analysis that can be applied to other areas of research

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 120: New Data Collection Techniques