#SOTU 2018: Outside the DC Twitter Bubble, Bipartisanship Eludes, Immigration Dominates

Using GSG’s social media listening platform Viewfinder, we looked at the Twitter conversation around President Trump’s first State of the Union address. For this analysis, we used the following demographic breakdowns: general population, age, gender, party affiliation, ethnicity, college education, and 2018 battleground states.

Our top takeaways:

  • President Trump’s speech was touted as a call for bipartisanship. But if he called, no one listened.
  • President Trump’s focus on immigration drowned out other intended focuses, like the economy, trade and infrastructure.
  • People also focused on what was largely absent from the speech –  including Russia and sexual harassment.
  • Women were twice as engaged as men in discussing the speech.


Who was discussing the State of the Union?

  • The average person in our general population (Gen Pop) group of 2,000 adults tweeted once about the speech.
  • This number was higher for women and older people (aged 50+).
  • People in the 2018 battleground states were no more engaged than the Gen Pop.
  • The least engaged group was young people aged 18 – 34.


Avg number of tweets


What were people saying about Trump and the speech?

  • Discussion around Democrats and the phrase MAGA came through more with the Gen Pop group than in the 2018 battleground states.
  • The word “illegal,” likely in connection to “illegal immigration,” was a driving theme among both groups.
  • #ReleasetheMemo (referring to the controversial GOP memo that alleges the FBI abused a          surveillance program) was discussed among both groups, yet was cited more in the Gen Pop group than 2018 battleground states.



General Population Word Cloud




2018 states word cloud


What did people in 2018 battleground states discuss?  

  • Immigration was, by far, the dominant issue.
  • While press coverage focused on bipartisanship, discussions on bipartisanship were not widespread.
  • The length of the speech (clocking in at 1 hour 20 minutes), Russia, and sexual harassment were discussed more often than topics from the speech itself like infrastructure, healthcare, opioids, or trade.


Issues discussed graph


How did Republicans and Democrats differ?

  • Republicans focused their conversations on Democrats, while Democrats focused on issues like immigration, Puerto Rico, and the police, as well as the #StateoftheDream hashtag.
  • Republicans also focused on the #ReleasetheMemo hashtag.



Republicans Word Cloud


Democrats word cloud




GSG Viewfinder leverages two decades of insights from GSG’s political and public affairs research with cutting-edge social media listening methodology to help clients across business, politics, and causes track and understand their audiences—up to the minute. In this case, we looked at a group of 2000 registered voters nationwide and 1000 registered voters in states with key 2018 races (Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin).