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What do emoji say about this year’s presidential candidates?

7th June 2016

With the California Presidential Primary going on today, we thought it would be a good time to look at some Twitter data to make some observations about the remaining candidates. However, we decided to take a different approach to this than some other sentiment analyses; we looked at EMOJI (of course)!

We analyzed Twitter data for emoji/word co-occurrence (e.g. Bernie + ? or #makeamericagreatagain + ??) over a 30-day period in April and May. One interesting finding right off the bat? Of all the tweets that mention a candidate and have an emoji, 63% of them are about Trump – compared to just 20% for Hillary and 17% for Bernie. But what does it mean? Is Trump just the most talked-about candidate of this election, or…?

Top 10 emoji used in co-occurrence with candidate’s names, hashtags and slogans

Donald Trump     Hillary Clinton     Bernie Sanders    
1 ?? ? ?
2 ? ?? ?
3 ? ?
4 ? ??
5 ?
6 ?
7 ? ? ?
8 ? ?
9 ? ? ?
10 ? ? ?


A few things we noticed:

  • The American flag ?? is the emoji most utilized in association with Trump (it’s also used 12x more with him than Hillary and 14x more than Bernie)
  • Bernie’s top emoji is the flame ? – a nod to “Feel the Bern”
  • The candidate getting the most love (in the form of the heart emoji ❤) is Bernie
  • The “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji is close to the top for all 3 candidates, perhaps because it was Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2015
  • Part of Hillary’s campaign logo is an arrow pointing to the right – we figure that’s why people use the right-pointing finger ? so frequently in conjunction with her name
  • People are getting on the #trumptrain; the train ? is the third most-used emoji with Trump
  • We had to do a little digging for this one, but it looks like people were using the bird emoji ? to reference the time when a bird landed on Bernie’s lectern during a rally

What kinds of conclusions can you draw from this emoji data? Share with us on Twitter!