Which Presidential Candidate is the Most Conservative?

Pablo Barbera in the Washington Post: “One characteristic all candidates share is that they have active and popular Twitter accounts. And as I showed in an article published earlier this year in the journal Political Analysis — now freely available online as an Editors’ Choice article — it is possible to analyze the candidates’ Twitter networks to compute precise ideological scores and thus identify how conservative or liberal each of them is.”

“The intuition behind this method is simple: Citizens prefer to follow on Twitter those political accounts that they perceive to be ideologically close to their own positions.”

The figure above “displays the ideological scores of all declared and rumored major primary candidates as of June 1, estimated using their Twitter networks applying this method. To facilitate its interpretation, I have also indicated the location of a few major news outlets, as well as the distribution of ideological scores for all Twitter users (in black) and for Republican and Democratic members of Congress (in red and blue).”

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  • dionysus_finch

    Am I reading this wrong, or is it simultaneously telling me that the average Twitter user leans slightly left of center, but that Rush Limbaugh and the Republican field are closer to the center than most Dems? Because that seems like kind of a load.

    • DragonAtma

      Keep in mind that they’re only going by twitter (i.e. ames straw poll, internet version).

      I don’t use twitter, so presumably the chart would put me as an exact centrist, while anyone who saw my posts on here and political wire knows I’m more liberal than most if not all of the people on the chart.

      Also, IIRC 538 charted the candidates and found Hillary and Sanders almost exactly the same ideologically — which this chart definitely disagrees with.

    • Rhodent

      The chart is kind of confusing, and reading the article didn’t really help me understand it, but let me take a stab at it. The grey area, I assume, represents all of Twitterdom. You will note two things about this area: One, the area where Twitterdom peaks (which I presume would represent the mathematical mode) is to the left of the average (presumably the mean) Twitter user; Two, there are more Twitter users on the right-leaning fringe than on the left leaning fringe. That tells me that the location of the “average” Twitter user is skewed to the right by the higher number of fringe right-wingers — or to put it more simply, the typical Twitter user is farther to the left than the average Twitter user.

      At the same time, the point where Republicans in Congress peaks is to the right of the average for that group, and the left edge of the Republican area is bigger than the right edge. So here the situation is the exact opposite: a small number of centrist Republicans (I’m looking at you, Susan Collins) are skewing the average to the left, and the typical Republican in Congress is farther to the right than the average Republican in Congress.

      Finally, the typical Democrat in Congress is farther to the left than the average Democrat in Congress, but the difference here is much smaller than with Republicans in Congress or Twitterdom in general.

      It’s worth noting that if you look at these peaks rather than the averages, the Twitterdom is noticeably closer to Democrats in Congress than Republicans.

      • LemonadeMan

        This analysis arrives at a crisis if the average use by twitter is the modal or median instead of the ‘popular’ arithmetic mean. That would suggest the typical twittervarian is as far to the rite as cruz w/o control, or even farther since he’s so highly edumacated.

    • noice

      If accurate, it’s a demonstration of how the Overton window has been stretched waaay too much towards the right.

  • suegarelik

    I guess it all depends on defining the center

  • DKDC

    Interesting that the four republican candidates considered closest to Twitter Centrer are Trump, Fiorina, Christie, and Santorum. None of whom have a prayer of getting the nomination much less elected.

    • Robert68

      Trump sure doesn’t seem in the center on immigration.

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