COVID-19 Tweets of Governors and Health Experts
Deaths, Masks, and The Economy
Keywords:COVID-19, Twitter, Governors, USPolitics, Healthcare Professionals, Doctors, Social Media, USGovernors, Democrat, Republican
As COVID-19 spread throughout the United States, governors and health experts (HEs) received a surge in followers on Twitter. This paper seeks to investigate how HEs, Democratic governors, and Republican governors discuss COVID-19 on Twitter. Tweets dating from January 1st, 2020 to October 18th, 2020 from official accounts of all fifty governors and 46 prominent U.S.-based HEs were scraped using python package Twint (N = 192,403) and analyzed using a custom-built wordcount program (Twintproject, 2020). The most significant finding is that in 2020, Democratic governors mentioned death at 4.03 times the rate of Republican governors in their COVID-19 tweets. In 2019, Democratic governors still mentioned death at twice the rate of Republicans. We believe we have substantial evidence that Republican governors are less comfortable talking about death than their Democratic counterparts.
We also found that Democratic governors tweet about masks, stay-at-home measures, and solutions more often than Republicans. After controlling for state-level variations in COVID-19 data, our regression model confirms that party affiliation is still correlated with the prevalence of tweets in these three categories. However, there isn’t a large difference between the proportion of COVID-19 tweets, tweets about the economy, tweets about vaccines, and tweets containing “science-like” words between governors of the two parties.
HEs tweeted about death and vaccines more than the governors. They also tweeted about solutions and testing at a similar rate compared to governors and mentioned lockdowns, the economy, and masks less frequently.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Tim Hua, Chris Chankyo Kim, Jack Zhang; Alex Lyford
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