Political Twitter is no place for moderates

Even though we might expect a sample of Twitter users to be more political than the U.S. population overall, we were surprised to see that the use of political words was concentrated among the small group of respondents who term themselves “very conservative” or “very liberal.” Take a look at at the chart below, which illustrates who is using these political terms. The C-shaped pattern makes the core result clear. It’s primarily those people on the ideological extremes who use political terms with any frequency. In other words, if someone tweets about politics, they are likely to label themselves as on the edges of the American ideological distribution. People who deem themselves “very conservative” or “very liberal” seem to be telling us as much about their level of political engagement as about their policy positions.