Sam Houston conducts study on use of Twitter among presidential candidates

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SHSU conducts study on Twitter and how candidates are using the platform. (KTRK)

At Sam Houston State University, as with most places these days, you can't walk but a few feet without seeing people on their phones.

Many of them are on social media.

In the school's political science department, there's one professor paying special attention to it.

Heather Evans, an associate professor of Political Science, is not so concerned with her students as she is presidential candidates.

"I love Twitter," she told Eyewitness News. "If you're a political candidate, you can immediately reply to something. You don't have to wait on the traditional media channels."



It started as research four years ago into every person running for Congress and how he or she used the social media site Twitter.

"We followed 1,119 people on Twitter," she said.

That project has expanded into how the two primary candidates for president -- Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump -- use the social media site.

"We're collecting all of the tweets from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump since the beginning of June," she explained. "And we're classifying those tweets from the content that they're talking about, are they talking about an issue, for instance."

The findings so far are fascinating. For all of the attention Trump gets for his tweets, data found Hillary Clinton's account tweets two and a half times as much and she talks more about issues than he does.

Also, Trump seems to be using two phones: an iPhone and an Android device.

"The iPhone tweets are very professional," said Evans. "They're the things like, 'Thank you for having me, Dallas' or it was great spending time with this group of people. The Android tweets are not so professional and are more what you would see a family member doing on Facebook."

Clinton also tends to tweet more intimate photos with voters whereas Trump likes to show the large crowds at his rallies.

But Clinton tends to use the social media site to attack Trump more than he attacks her.

"She is attacking him more than he is attacking her in terms of a proportion of tweets, but he's attacking everybody," said Evans. "So he's attacking the media: CNN, MSNBC, Washington Post. You name it, he has a tweet about it. So he's very negative towards the media, he's very negative toward Democrats, he's even negative toward Republicans."

Evans found that Clinton is like other women politicians. They, more than men, tend to go negative on Twitter.

"My stuff with Twitter, and some other researchers have confirmed it as well, shows that women on Twitter, female politicians on Twitter are more likely to attack their opponents."

Evans says the research, aided by a pair of political science students, has already appeared in a pair of academic journals. Their research is slated for another journal and will appear in the chapter of a forthcoming book.
Related Topics:
technologytwittersocial mediahillary clintondonald trump2016 electionpoliticscampaignu.s. & worldbuzzworthysam houston state universityHuntsville
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