20 Oct

Does political affiliation matter for Twitter use?

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My friend PJ Rey tweeted that it appeared, based on Pew Internet data, that Democrats were 50% more likely (18%) to be on Twitter than Republicans (12%).

But, I tweet-pleaded with him, Democrats are younger, amongst other important sociodemographic differences, and that was likely to explain the differences. I then made my usual call for multivariate analysis.

INTERNET USERS ONLY (with missing values of refused and don’t know removed):

First, about Twitter use — 8.2% of all people (in this sample, American adult Internet users) used Twitter yesterday and 6.7% used Twitter (but not yesterday), and 84.8% do not use Twitter. So already we’re dealing with a pretty small group.

But that being said…

Regarding political party affiliation,

Used Twitter yesterday:
5.4% of Republicans
11.4% of Democrats
7.9% of Independents

Used Twitter, but not yesterday:
5.5% of Republicans
9.1% of Democrats
6.8% of Independents

And yes, these are statistically significant differences.

When asked about party leaning (more toward Republican or Democrat)

9.5% of those leaning Republican used Twitter yesterday; 7.9% of those leaning Democrat used Twitter yesterday

7.2% of those leaning Republican used Twitter, but not yesterday; 9.0% of those learning Democrat used Twitter, but not yesterday

These were NOT statistically significantly different.

Then asked about ideology (very conservative, conservative, moderate, liberal, or very liberal)

Used Twitter yesterday:
7.8% of very conservative; 6.0% of conservative; 6.7% moderate; 13.4% liberal; 10.8% very liberal

Used Twitter, but not yesterday:
3.8% of very conservative; 6.3% of conservative; 7.9% moderate; 6.7% liberal; 10.8% very liberal

Statistically significant differences here again.

But let’s recall that people aren’t randomly distributed into different political leanings.

And yes – Twitter use varies significantly by income level, educational attainment, race, and age.

So in a multivariate analysis (that means everything’s thrown into the stew), do various political affiliations matter?

For party (this was the one that included independent), no, this did not matter (although it was fairly close to being statistically significant), income and age were the major explanatory variables for Twitter use.

For party line (leaning Democrat or Republican), no, this did not matter – in this case, age, followed weakly, but still statistically significantly, by income, were the primary explanatory variables for Twitter use.

For ideology (that’s the conservative-liberal one), no, this did not matter – in that case income and age were the major explanatory variables for Twitter use.

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