David Robinson, data scientist at Stack Overflow, published an insightful analysis of Donald Trump’s tweets. It provides a fascinating window into Trump’s mind as he squeezes his thoughts down into 140 angry characters. And it begins to reveal what Trump would do all day long if elected president.
Robinson’s analysis: Trump’s tweets are even more hateful than they appear
Robinson starts by confirming that the @realDonaldTrump tweets from Android devices are from Trump himself, and the remainder of the tweets, on iPhones, are from a staffer. He makes the case by demonstrating that:
- The Android and iPhone tweets are from different times of day.
- Only the Android uses the idiosyncratic habit of retweeting by cutting and pasting with quote marks.
- The iPhone is responsible for nearly all the tweets with media, such as pictures or video.
I’m convinced. This is important because it gives us peek into the real tweeting mind of Trump with his Android. Here’s a statistical comparison (via a “log ratio”) of words that Trump on his Android uses more, vs. the Trump staffer on an iPhone. Note the emotional words that Trump disproportionately uses, compared to the staffer who is focused on hashtags.
Like any good analyst, Robinson goes further, conducting a sentiment analysis of the words in the tweets, which associates them with emotion states. As Robinson discovers:
Trump’s Android account uses about 40-80% more words related to disgust, sadness, fear, anger, and other “negative” sentiments than the iPhone account does.
Here’s the breakdown:
So Trump is disproportionately likely to be expressing sadness (“badly,” “disaster”), fear (“crazy,” “fight”), and anger (“angry,” “killing”), while the positives like “winning” and “honor” come from his surrogate. When you remove the surrogate’s tweets, you see just how much pure anger and hate pours from Trump’s fingertips. This is consistent with my own analysis of his fear-mongering convention speech.
Hate-tweeting is not a presidential prerequisite
If you want to be a successful Internet troll, the ability to react quickly and angrily to events is crucial. This is a skill that Trump has mastered, based on his Android tweeting history.
On the other hand, if you want to succeed in government, say, as president, you need to think before reacting. Every presidential action has consequences, some of which resonate for decades. Absent reflection, unexamined communication can be disastrous.
As Michael Kinsley said, “A gaffe is when a politician [accidentally] tells the truth.” By this definition, Trump’s Android tweets are a stream of gaffes, a window directly into the angry, reactive brain of Donald Trump.
Donald Trump, Jr. reportedly told an aide to John Kasich that if Kasich were chosen as Vice President, he would be in charge of “domestic and foreign policy.” Trump’s responsibility would be “making America great again.” I can’t get an image out of my head: Mike Pence sitting in the vice-president’s office making decisions and determining policy while Trump, in the Oval Office, hunches over his Android scouring questionable sites for things to quote and retweet, trolling CNN, and calling world leaders and opposition politicians “losers” in 140 character diatribes.
Great sitcom concept. Sort of scary in practice.