Social Media Affects Presidential Race

The presidential election of 2016 could be best described in one word: unprecedented. In the race between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, social media has taken the reigns.

Beyond the fact that we have the first female candidate of a major party and the first reality T.V. show star running against one another for the title, it’s also been an election disproportionately affected by the internet.

“The Hill” called this election “The Social Media Race” and for good reason – the candidates throughout the entire process have had an enormous presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram over the past year and a half.

Department of Political Science associate professor Heather Evans examined how the candidates used their own personal Twitter to reach voters.

“Hillary Clinton has sent significantly more tweets than Donald Trump,” Evans said. “She has also been more focused in her use of negativity — focusing solely on Donald Trump.”

While the negativity has been focused on Trump since the primaries ended, it’s not the first time the former Secretary of State used tweets to go after another running candidate.

In August of 2015, she went back and forth with Jeb Bush about the cost of college tuition – including editing one of his infographics to point out that Florida had a “F” in college cost in the time that he was governor.

Clinton reaches 10.2 million followers with every tweet she sends – her opponent, Trump, has a whopping 13 million followers.

“[Donald Trump], on the other hand, has been attacking everyone — and I do mean everyone (the media, Democrats, Government, and even Republicans),” Evans said.

Trump has become notorious over the last year and a half for late night Twitter rampages against anyone that might have slighted him – including House Speaker Paul Ryan and his running mate Governor Mike Pence.

Overall, Evans says that social media can impact politics positively, by having a chance to respond to an incident and take control of the narrative.

Sophomore Lily Dominguez said is less impressed with the way she’s seen social media used throughout the election.

“I think that they show only what they want you to see,” Dominguez said. “It’s all bias. Or he said she said, but never what they said. Social Media notoriously paints beautiful pictures for the most crooked people.”

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