We The Tweeple

Compare Beyoncé with NASCAR. Search the bios of 8 million Clinton and Trump Twitter followers.

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Never before has Twitter played such a prominent role in an election. If Clinton or Trump wants to say something or react to news — even if it's at 3 a.m. — they don't need to coordinate a press conference. They just need to tap that little blue bird. And in a blink of an eye, they’ve reached millions.

The Huffington Post wanted to find out more about the people who follow the candidates. We hoped their 160-character bios might reveal a thing or two about political identity. Not everyone fills out their Twitter bio, but for those who do it acts as a sort of digital calling card.

We downloaded the Twitter bios for people who follow either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. That ended up being about 8 million tiny 160-character self-portraits. (Curious about how we did this? Read our methodology.)

Mostly the profiles paint a story of identity: parental status, professional and personal accomplishments, hobbies, niche interests, a favorite Bible quote or the type of car someone drives. The bios suggest a divided nation, where a single word, like NASCAR or Buddhist, reveals a person’s politics.

Click or tap any highlighted term to compare Clinton and Trump followers

A big caveat: a Trump or Clinton follower does not a Trump or Clinton supporter make. In other words, this is not a scientific data set, and we’re not here to make big new proclamations about the American Voter. Mostly we’re just trying to scratch the itch of curiosity. Who is more likely to be a follower of Trump? Of Clinton?

Take guns and religion, often associated with the right wing. #2A, meaning Second Amendment, popped up in the bios of 4,320 Trump followers, compared to 585 Clinton followers. Then there’s #MolonLabe, a Greek phrase meaning “come and take [them],” which, legend has it, was the Spartan king Leonidas’ response when the Persian army told him and his army to lay down their weapons. The phrase, adopted by gun rights advocates as a rallying cry against gun control, was in the Twitter bios of 396 Trump followers and in the the bios of just 43 Clinton followers.

Religion and Guns

Number of followers

Clinton followers are more likely to use the term…

    Trump followers are more likely to use the term…

    • God
    • Christian
    • Christ
    • Psalm
    • NRA
    • #2A

    As for religion, Trump followers made up a large majority of the Twitter bios we downloaded that referenced Christianity. Some 45,132 Trump followers had Christian in their bios, compared to 15,268 Clinton followers.

    Also prominent in Trump followers’ bios were Bible verses: Psalm 23:4, John 15:13, Matthew 19:26, Romans 1:16, Luke 1:37, and most popularly, Joshua 1:9 (“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”). Clinton followers, by comparison, were less biblically inclined.

    Now let’s look at the more coded language, or acronyms, that people used in their bios. Exactly 496 Trump followers had #LNYHBT in their bios, an acronym for “Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled,” a Bible verse co-opted by Fox News host and Trump enabler Sean Hannity. (You can buy your #LYHNBT t-shirts at www.seanhannitystore.com.)

    Trump followers also had #TGDN in their bios, an acronym for Twitter Gulag Defense Network, a coalition of conservative Twitter users who follow each other on Twitter, boosting their number of followers so each account is less likely to be suspended for posting offensive and inappropriate content. And 855 Trump followers had shitpost in their Twitter bios, a slang term for an act of online trolling aimed at derailing a conversation.

    Meanwhile, popular Clinton follower hashtags with acronyms include #BLM, for Black Lives Matter, LGBT, for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, and RPCV, for Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, living up to the cliché that Democrats really are bleeding-heart liberals.

    Trump followers were very ‘Merica. They used nationalistic phrases in their bios, including Proud American, Patriot, American patriot, Love America, and God Bless America. They identified as father, husband, wife, son, and daughter in higher numbers than Clinton followers. (Mother, however, was more frequent in Clinton followers’ bios.)

    But despite the apparent wholesomeness of their patriotism and parental status, Trump followers were more likely to use curse words in their bios, including fuck, ass and shit and misogynistic terms like cunt and bitch.

    And while Trump followers more often had big ol’ state schools in their bios, including Roll Tide, Penn State and so forth, Clinton followers were a little more ivory tower, listing universities like Harvard and Columbia — confirming in a grossly generalized way that Democrats are also elitists.


    Number of followers

    Clinton followers are more likely to use the term…

    • Columbia
    • Harvard
    • Georgetown
    • American University
    • Northwestern

    Trump followers are more likely to use the term…

    • Roll Tide
    • Penn State
    • LSU
    • FSU

    Clinton followers were more bookish, using terms like bookworm, bibliophile, book lover, reader/writer and book nerd. A lot of them identified as professors or as having PhDs. They used terms like tree hugger, Buddhist, human rights activist, advocate, justice, vegan and vegetarian.

    Nerds and Jocks

    Number of followers

    Clinton followers are more likely to use the term…

    • Writer
    • book
    • Professor
    • Librarian
    • Bibliophile

    Trump followers are more likely to use the term…

    • Football
    • Baseball
    • Soccer
    • Basketball
    • wrestling

    And while Clinton followers more often identified with pop culture, branding themselves Beliebers, or as fans of Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, One Direction and the show Dr. Who, Trump followers more often identified with sports, using baseball, basketball, football, soccer, wrestling, volleyball and lacrosse in their bios.

    So, what do we make of all of this?

    In the 1990s, a linguist at the University of California, Berkeley named George Lakoff wanted to know why certain beliefs are often grouped together. For example, what does being a pro-life Christian have to do with owning guns? Or patriotism and nationalism? Or small government?

    Here’s what Lakoff came up with: people’s politics line up with how they view family. Whereas progressives believe in what Lakoff calls the “nurturant parent” family, conservatives believe in the “strict father.”

    “Father knows best,” Lakoff wrote in a blog for The Huffington Post in July, explaining the “strict father” model. “He knows right from wrong and has the ultimate authority to make sure his children and his spouse do what he says, which is taken to be what is right.”

    And in the “strict father” worldview, there’s a deep respect for social hierarchies in which “those who have traditionally dominated should dominate,” Lakoff wrote. God is above man. Man above nature. Rich above the poor. Western culture above other cultures. Christians above non-Christians. And America above other countries.

    In other words, the theory explains why conservatives are seemingly more religious and nationalistic.

    Trump, Lakoff says, represents the ultimate strict father. Problems are dealt with simply, directly and without nuance. That’s why it’s easy for Trump to say “build a wall” as a solution for stopping immigrants. Or that the cure for gun violence is to arm the victim. Terrorism? Ban Muslims and destroy ISIS. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

    In the “nurturant parent” model, there aren’t as many strict rules or hierarchies. Discipline isn’t emphasized as much as respect and compassion. That’s why progressives, like Clinton, are often derided as “feel-good” or “bleeding-heart” liberals. They want to join the Peace Corps. They want to stand up for human rights. It’s not the refugee’s fault that they’re a refugee. It’s not the homeless person’s fault that they’re homeless. Drug addiction isn’t a lapse in willpower or the result of a lack of discipline -- it’s a treatable illness.

    In We The Tweeple, Lakoff’s model seems to come to life. Here we have 8 million portraits of political gawkers, all following two wildly different politicians, a “strict father” in Trump and a “nurturing mother” in Clinton, if you will, all describing themselves through a lens of politics, whether they know it or not.