Author(s): Jacob Groshek, Ahmed AlRawi
By being embedded in everyday life, social networking sites (SNSs) have altered the way campaign politics are understood and engaged with by politicians and citizens alike. However, the actual content of social media has remained a vast but somewhat amorphous and understudied entity. The study reported here examines public sentiment as it was expressed in just over 1.42 million social media units on Facebook and Twitter to provide broad insights into dominant topics and themes that were prevalent in the 2012 U.S. election campaign online. Key findings include the fact that contrary to what one might expect, neither presidential candidate was framed in an overly critical manner in his opponent’s Facebook space nor on Twitter’s dedicated nonpartisan election page. Beyond this, similarities and divergences in sentiment across social media spaces are observed that allow for a better understanding of what is being communicated in political social media.