What happened on Twitter right after Trumps victory

For Britta Muehlbach it was traumatic. On November 8 she was watching the news on election night together with friends at their apartment in New York City. “I felt anxious, the whole time. I did not know what was going to happen.” Muehlbach sensed that it could go either way, although her friends were expecting Clinton to win over Trump.

They switched back and forth between CNN and MSNBC until about midnight. At that point Trump had not yet reached the required 270 electoral votes, yet it was already clear the big swing states were going to the Republican presidential nominee. Muehlbach left her friends place knowing that Trump had won.

“Honestly we were all in shock. I was not surprised, but I was in shock. Nobody started crying, wailing or cursing. There was like a numbness”, Muehlbach describes. It was only the next morning, when she checked her phone, that the news sunk in. The first day she could not stop crying. And the next day at work, when watching Hillary’s remarks, there were more tears.

That Muehlbach was not the only one in shock, became clearly visible days after the election when the protests started against the new president-elect. But if we take one step back, and look at the common worries and emotions of a whole country, the whole world even, right after the big news broke through. Where do you look? That is right, social media.

That is exactly what students of the University of Amsterdam did. During a data sprint, lasting from January 9 until January 15, they researched behaviour on Twitter after Trump’s victory. At 2:30 AM Trump got the 270 electoral votes he needed to win the presidential election. The students focused on behaviour and emotions of people during the fifteen minutes following that event.

“Twitter ‘claims’ to be a real time news medium, but that is just a part of it”, says Michael Stevenson, scholar in new media and digital culture at the University of Groningen. “Twitter does not ask you: how are you feeling? But rather: what is happening?” Instead of looking at the news, or what celebrity is trending, we could look at the bigger picture regarding emotions and Twitter, and find the bigger narrative, says Stevenson.

Finding the data

During their research the students of the University of Amsterdam tried to find this bigger narrative. They did that by collecting a sample of tweets by using a nifty tool called DMI Twitter Capturing and Analysis Toolset (DMI-TCAT). The selection of tweets about the U.S elections was made by using the keywords ‘Clinton’, ‘Hillary’ and ‘Trump’. Because of the rate limit on collecting data set by Twitter, 11 to 15 percent of all the tweets about the election night could be collected.

The bigger themes

The most frequent words used by Twitter-users, can be a good indication of the bigger themes during the 15 minutes after the election outcome. Looking at the word cloud above, two bigger themes can be distinguished. The cloud is pretty much self-explanatory: Big words were used more often.

Not surprisingly, those themes were sexism and racism. Words like, man, woman, sexist, sexism, stood out in the word cloud and together form the sexism theme. The words race, racism, black or white form the racism theme.

Muehlbach acknowledges that those themes were talked about a lot by the people in her personal environment as well. “The immediate reaction for people was: we elected a racist and sexist president.” According to her, these issues are still in the background but now the focus is more on issues such as environment and health care. People have a lot of questions about the defunding of planned parenthood, the repeal and replacement of Obamacare and what is going to happen now that a denier of climate change is going to run the country, Muehlbach says.

Sentiments

Two new samples were extracted, using only tweets that were retweeted. The overall retweeted tweet sample of those 15 minutes contained 2895 tweets. After reading the tweets, and picking out the ones that didn’t match the theme, the students found a total of 54 tweets regarding sexism and 79 tweets regarding racism 79.

Something called a sentiment analysis tool was used to analyse those tweets. The tool is based on the NRC Word Association Lexicon (EmoLex). According to the EmoLex website: “The NRC Emotion Lexicon is a list of English words and their associations with eight basic emotions (anger, fear, anticipation, trust, surprise, sadness, joy, and disgust) and two sentiments (negative and positive).”

Overall emotions

Top 10 RT emotions

BREAKING: Donald Trump is elected president of the United States. https://t.co/yJpgfsAbc6

America, meet your new president: Donald J. Trump. https://t.co/Ug2ec6gCX0

Imaginez Trump , Poutine et Marine Le Pen mdr c’est des bz ils vont jouer au foot le samedi avec la bombe nucle?aire

BREAKING: Donald Trump is elected president of the United States. https://t.co/OIJcRFNOGY

All of the people who said “if trump gets elected I’m leaving the country,” just became liars

Trump will have control of the CIA, the FBI, the IRS, the NSA, drones and nuclear weapons. Healthcare: gone. Well done, America.

Obama: Hillary Bernie: Hillary Beyonce?: Hillary Lady Gaga: Hillary The rest of the world: Hillary Americans: Trump

CONGRATULATIONS PRESIDENT TRUMP! GOD IS GREAT!

No Estado onde mais de 50 lgbts foram mortos, Trump vence os votos e a eleic?a?o inteira. 2016 e? o ano mais surreal e absurdo de todos.

We Won…..This is what Winning looks like. The Trump Train all the way to the White House. Don’t get it twisted! #DrainTheSwamp https://t.co/dmH- JFutD9K

Top 10 follower emotions

@cnnbrk – BREAKING: Hillary Clinton has called Donald Trump to concede the race, sources tell CNN https://t.co/2RM- nGjyHrY

@cnnbrk – BREAKING: Donald Trump will win Arizona, CNN proj- ects https://t.co/tlDCvOP2TE #ElectionNight https://t.co/tXZ92ca3sx

@nytimes – Breaking: Donald Trump has been elected president, a
stunning upset for an outsider who defied the estab-
lishment https://t.co/0injgUeG7q
https://t.co/nu5Rt936SY

@CNN – BREAKING: Donald Trump will win Arizona, CNN proj- ects https://t.co/zwwtDtlYFz #ElectionNight https://t.co/QwAfsnvjWQ

@CNN – BREAKING: Hillary Clinton has called Donald Trump to concede the race, according to sources https://t.co/q- jxs0ewgVg https://t.co/BZ2b3zj7ix

@CNN – BREAKING: Hillary Clinton has called Donald Trump to concede the race, sources tell CNN https://t.co/e- JUKY1qXd1

@CNN – The @EmpireStateBldg lights up with CNN’s Wiscon- sin projection for Donald Trump https://t.co/q jxs0eN- SjQ #MyVote https://t.co/rUperv0Ofm

@CNN – Clinton campaign chair to supporters: “She’s done an amazing job and she is not done yet” https://t.co/nTwVwBNF2G https://t.co/s4z4FHiCEe

@BBCBreaking – Donald Trump 25 short of target as Hillary Clinton campaign say several states “too close to call” https://t.co/paLDk72JcH #ElectionNight https://t.co/- Fy4bHcgrzZ

@BBCBreaking – Donald Trump elected 45th president of the US – AP reports https://t.co/Y5fvFUHy0d #ElectionNight LexiBLives Iamchris_carter chartflops https://t.co/hp52Pd9fRD

Overall emotions

Top 10 RT emotions

Trump didn’t win tonight. Racism won. Homophobia won. Islamophobia won. White supremacy won. Sexism won. Sexual assault won. Hatred won.

#Trump didn’t win. Racism won. Sexism won. Hate won. Lack of education won. #ElectionNight #ElectionNight

How do you explain to young girls in tears at Hillary HQ that women voted for Trump and misogyny is the way of the world? I won’t. It’s not.

#Trump aleni Asya du?s?man? #Hillary ise gizli du?s?man Dostun da du?s?man?n da mert olan? iyidir S?imdi Feto? firavunu du?s?u?nsu?n @ErtugrulCagman_ https://t.co/2ecn- PYTIeG

Trump disrespected women, gays, minorities & animals + his thin lip wife stole Michelle’s speech and he still managed to win, I’m tired. https://t.co/FgYMThZMrV

#Trump didn’t win. Racism won. Sexism won. Hate won. Lack of education won. #ElectionNight #ElectionNight

BREAKING: If Hillary Clinton concedes the race to Donald Trump, it will mark the first time in history that a woman admits she’s wrong. FACT

I can understand, to a degree, points from both sides of this election, however, when I see a Women For Trump sign I JUST DON’T GET IT

trump winning will never be as devastating as the fact that half of this country doesn’t think all human beings deserve equal rights

Racism won. Sexism won. Homophobia won. Bigotry won. Hate won. Trump won. Humanity lost. The US owes you an apology @HillaryClinton https://t.co/OqaVYJjoXM

Top 10 follower emotions

@businessinsider – Hillary Clinton loses election in monumental upset https://t.co/umZSsgceAn https://t.co/cZmrYftjvp

@joebereta – I can understand, to a degree, points from both sides of this election, however, when I see a Women For Trump sign I JUST DON’T GET IT

@DanaDelany – How do you explain to young girls in tears at Hillary HQ that women voted for Trump and misogyny is the way of the world? I won’t. It’s not.

@montie – #BBCR4today interviewee saying Hillary lost because she’s a woman. Her views on trade, immigration, Wall St & war also worth a look.

@ladyhaja – Unless you’re a white man, Trump has slagged you off or screwed you over or belittled you at some point, so good luck all #ElectionNight

@cassidyfreeman – I say this in the most neutral voice I can muster. I just don’t understand the oxy moron: Women For Trump. Let’s roll up our sleeves.

@SimpIyboca – Women who voted for trump have no respect for themself its actually fucking sad

@LexiBLives – You’re crazy if you think I’m “coming together” with sexist, racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic Trump voters just because we’re all American

@Iamchris_carter – If you look into Hillary’s crowd, you’ll see every type of race supporting her. If you look in Trump’s, it’s all white and mostly old men.

@chartflops – Trump disrespected women, gays, minorities & animals + his thin lip wife stole Michelle’s speech and he still managed to win, I’m tired. https://t.co/F- gYMThZMrV

Overall emotions

Top 10 RT emotions

What if Donald Trump won because a majority of the country agrees with his traditional views and values, not because we are all racist??

Trump didn’t win tonight. Racism won. Homophobia won. Islamophobia won. White supremacy won. Sexism won. Sexual assault won. Hatred won.

#Trump didn’t win. Racism won. Sexism won. Hate won. Lack of education won. #ElectionNight #Elec- tionNight

Donald Trump is not MY president. I will continue to sit down for the pledge. I will continue to speak up against white supremacy.

Niggas gon lose the NBA finals on purpose so they don’t have to go to the White House with trump

#Trump didn’t win. Racism won. Sexism won. Hate won. Lack of education won. #ElectionNight #Elec- tionNight

Trump won. Racism, misogyny, vulgarity, nativism, ignorance, arrogance, criminality, fraud won.

There’s really no sugar coating this but WHITE, UNED- UCATED, PRIVILEGED WHITE PEOPLE made Trump win. It’s embarrassing to the whole world.

on another note: IF YOURE A RACIST DONT GET BOLD NOW BECAUSE TRUMP AINT GONNA SAVE YOU IN THESE STREETS

Trump is president. 8 years ago the US voted in the first black president. Today they vote in a racist that is supported by the KKK.

Top 10 follower emotions

@xstex – Trump is president. 8 years ago the US voted in the first black president. Today they vote in a racist that is supported by the KKK.

@ladyhaja – Unless you’re a white man, Trump has slagged you off or screwed you over or belittled you at some point, so good luck all #ElectionNight

@DMReporter – OPINION: ‘Marginalised and discriminated against in their own country, Trump’s victory offers a chance at equality for the white male.‘

@rabiasquared – Trump won. Racism, misogyny, vulgarity, nativ- ism, ignorance, arrogance, criminality, fraud won.

@NoMaminBlue – Trump no gano?. Gano? el racismo. Gano? el sexis- mo. Gano? el odio. Gano? la falta de educacio?n.

@HoopsOverHoes_ – Niggas gon lose the NBA finals on purpose so they don’t have to go to the White House with trump

@LexiBLives – You’re crazy if you think I’m “coming together” with sexist, racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic Trump voters just because we’re all American

@IndyUSA – Van Jones calls Trump’s surprise victory a whitelash against a changing country #Elec- tionNight https://t.co/OBRfNOKJUh https://t.co/SXPI3XxwF1

@CGGuy44 – There’s really no sugar coating this but WHITE, UNEDUCATED, PRIVILEGED WHITE PEOPLE made Trump win. It’s embarrassing to the whole world.

@arthur_affect – Oh yeah Trump won young white people too so spare me this smarmy garbage about how the post-racial millennials will save us

Overall sentiments of all the tweets sent in the 15 minutes after it became known that Trump had won the elections were divided in positive and negative. Our findings show that for all those tweets, the prevailing sentiment is positive rather than negative. However, looking at the tweets about racism and sexism, the sentiments differ slightly. The sentiments of those tweets are still more positive than negative, although there is less discrepancy between the two.

Timeline

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Timeline all Tweets

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Timeline racism Tweets

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Timeline sexism Tweets

When comparing the timelines of emotions of all the tweets sent within the first fifteen minutes after Trumps win and the tweets about racism and sexism we saw some striking differences.

For all tweets, the first minutes show a big peak in tweets with the emotion trust. One explanation might be that most of the tweets sent during this particular time slot, use words that according to the EmoLex, are associated with trust. As seen in the EmoLex, words like ‘win’ and ‘winning’ are associated with trust. The majority of tweets during the first couple of minutes after Trumps win, might have had to do with ‘winning’.

Another explanation might be the number of factual news tweets after the election result. When you look at the graphs that show the overview of emotions during those 15 minutes, the emotion ‘trust’ spiked when the tweets were more or less factual news tweets, sent by news organizations. After two minutes, people could have switched from posting tweets that contained the news of Trumps victory, to tweets that are more emotional. This is shown in the graph as a point at which the ‘trust-tweets’ fall and the other emotions are divided proportionally amongst all tweets sent.

Whether it is really possible to read emotions, using a tool, is uncertain. Also, the validity of sentiment analysis is often quite reliable, accept when it is about political event, Stevenson adds. The best emotion-readers are still people. But if you read and try to understand tweets during the electionnight, you do get a feeling of the bigger themes and the underlying emotions people had during that period. “There is a mix of emotions, because Twitter is an emotional medium”, says Stevenson.