There's no question that Twitter plays a major role in US politics, particularly with its policy of letting world leaders like President Donald Trump tweet what they want, even if those tweets violate the tech giant's rules of engagement. But only 22% of Americans actually use Twitter, and of those, most political tweets are coming from a very small number, according to a Wednesday report from the Pew Research Center.
Pew analyzed the tweets of more than 2,400 random US adults with public Twitter accounts from June 2018 to June 2019, as they produced more than 1.1 million tweets. While 39% of users studied tweeted at least once about national politics over the year, 97% of the tweets mentioning national politics came from just 10% of users, the study found.
Twitter users who strongly disapprove of Trump are prominent on the platform: These users generate 80% of all tweets from US adults, and 72% of tweets mentioning politics, Pew found. Those who strongly approve of Trump generate only 11% of all tweets from US adults, and 25% of tweets about national politics.
The reason behind this is tied to two things, Pew said. People who disapprove of Trump make up a larger share of Twitter users than the general population (55% vs. 48%), and this group is more likely to tweet about politics than other groups on Twitter.
Demographic information also sheds light on who is tweeting about politics. While adults age 65 and older produced just 10% of all tweets studied, they contributed 33% of the tweets about national politics, according to Pew. People aged 50 and older produced 29% of all tweets, but 73% of tweets mentioning politics. In comparison, 18- to 29-year-olds produced 20% of all tweets, and just 4% of political tweets.
Political alignment also contributed to political tweet frequency, Pew found. Republicans who describe themselves as conservative and Democrats who describe themselves as liberal are more likely to tweet about politics than others in their respective parties.