Analyzing Trump’s Twitter: Top themes from 36K tweets
I’ll be honest: I’m pumped about Awario’s upcoming Topic Cloud release, due in late January. And, to be even more honest, I want y’all to be as pumped as I am. So with this post, I wanted to show you how interesting word clouds from social data can be. And there’s barely a better example to illustrate this than @realDonaldTrump.
Trump has been a Twitter user since 2009, when marketing staffer Peter Costanzo suggested to him that social media could help draw attention to his book, Think Like a Champion. His usage of the platform has been growing since. Trump's most tweet-heavy month to date is January 2015 with 1,119 tweets.
Trump’s tweet volume over time.
The U.S. president’s Twitter account arguably helped him win the 2016 election. His tweets have shaken the stock market, been cited in court hearings, and there’s barely a week without something Trump tweets not making the news. In fact, his use of the platform is so controversial that his wife Melania’s response to “What’s the one habit you wish he’d give up?” was “the tweeting”.
Let’s see what themes dominate Donald Trump’s tweets, and take a closer look at a few I found particularly interesting.
Trump’s tweets in a word cloud
To build the word cloud, I downloaded Trump’s entire Twitter history, excluding retweets, (an impressive 36.4K tweets) from TrumpTwitterArchive. Then I used R to filter out the common words from the data set (things like articles, prepositions, pronouns, auxiliary verbs, etc.), along with the President’s name, and count the occurrences of every word throughout the president’s Twitter history (you can view the entire list of words here). Lastly, I built a word cloud out of the 100 most frequently mentioned words using wordcloud2. For individual words I found interesting, I also plotted time series graphs with the help of Dygraphs to see how their usage changed over time.
Trump’s most used words on Twitter (all time)
Above, you can see the words most frequently mentioned by Trump in his tweets over almost 10 years. Exciting, huh? Now, let’s see how the top themes dominating Trump’s Twitter have evolved in the last 3 months (October 8, 2018 through January 8, 2019):
Trump’s most used words on Twitter (last 3 months)
And finally, let’s take a look at @realDonaldTrump’s most used words on Twitter over the last month (December 8, 2018 to January 8, 2019):
Trump’s most used words on Twitter (last month)
As you can see, the last month has been quite a change in terms of language, with certain words outranking the president’s all time favourite, “great”. Now, let’s look at some words up close.
#1 word of all time (#1 in the last 3 months; #3 in the last 1 month)
The number of @realDonaldTrump’s tweets mentioning “great” over time
Donald Trump often tweets about how great something is. In fact, “great” is Trump’s most used word ever. And if you’re thinking about the “make America great again” motto, that’s not it: look how relatively small the word “America” is compared to “great” in the word clouds.
So what’s so great then?
There’s no one answer. Jobs numbers are great. Senators are great. Some Congressmen are. The police, the troops, and the military are great. North Korea’s economic potential is great. The Wall is (obviously). It’s just the president’s fav adjective, it seems.
#6 word of all time (#87 in the last 3 months; #50 in the last 1 month)
The number of @realDonaldTrump’s tweets mentioning “Obama” over time
Interestingly, Trump’s first ever mention of Obama - a tweet with 15 likes from 2010 - is pretty positive.
By 2011, Trump’s tone had changed, and his follower count had grown.
Finally, here’s Trump’s last tweet mentioning the former president:
#34 word of all time (#34 in the last 3 months; #59 in the last 1 month)
The number of @realDonaldTrump’s tweets mentioning “China” over time
China is by far the most mentioned foreign country by the president. He was critical of the U.S.-China relationship in 2011:
Now his hopes are higher:
#115 word of all time (#7 in the last 3 months; #2 in the last 1 month)
The number of @realDonaldTrump’s tweets mentioning “wall” over time
Trump’s “Wall” has been so prominent over the last month, it’s even beaten the president’s all time favourite, “great”.
Before the Wall was even a thing, Trump’s very first mention of “walls” (in plural) on Twitter was, interestingly, this:
Trump’s very first mention of “wall” in the context of a border wall dates back to 2014:
Today, it’s his second most mentioned word after “border”:
#286 word of all time (#61 in the last 3 months; #46 in the last 1 month)
The number of @realDonaldTrump’s tweets mentioning “witch” over time
Interestingly, “witch” has been pretty popular with Trump lately. However, it’s not what you might be thinking - almost every time Trump has tweeted “witch”, it was followed by “hunt”. The president often uses the phrase when referring to investigations related to his past and the media’s critiques of him in general.
#115 word of all time (#98 in the last 3 months; #68 in the last 1 month)
The number of @realDonaldTrump’s tweets mentioning “Russia” over time
Russia is Trump’s second most mentioned foreign country of all time, after China. But even though the president’s recent tweets about it are numerous, they’re of little substance - the “never, look at the facts” kind.
#20 word of all time (#200 in the last 3 months; #168 in the last 1 month)
The number of @realDonaldTrump’s tweets mentioning “Hillary” over time
Understandably, Hillary is nowhere as popular with Trump on Twitter today as she was a few years back. Here’s the president’s first ever tweet mentioning Clinton:
The biggest spike in the “Hillary” tweets happened around the presidential election in 2016, when Hillary became “crooked”. (If you were wondering: “crooked” is Trump’s #101 most tweeted word of all time).
These days, Trump only remembers Hillary occasionally, and “crooked” is sinking into oblivion with only one mention over the past month.
While these word clouds are nowhere as elaborate as Awario’s will be (the latter will include 2- and 3-word phrases along with individual words), I hope you still found the analysis interesting (either way, do let me know in the comments).
Got ideas on whose tweets - or tweets mentioning what - you’d like to see analyzed next on this blog? Please share below!