Underlying socio-political processes behind the 2016 US election

Bryden, J. and Silverman, E. (2019) Underlying socio-political processes behind the 2016 US election. PLoS ONE, 14(4), e0214854. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0214854) (PMID:30964900) (PMCID:PMC6456177)

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Recently we have witnessed a number of rapid shifts toward populism in the rhetoric and policies of major political parties, as exemplified in the 2016 Brexit Referendum, 2016 US Election, and 2017 UK General Election. Our perspective here is to focus on understanding the underlying societal processes behind these recent political shifts. We use novel methods to study social dynamics behind the 2016 Presidential election. This is done by using network science methods to identify key groups associated with the US right-wing during the election. We investigate how the groups grew on Twitter, and how their associated accounts changed their following behaviour over time. We find a new external faction of Trump supporters took a strong influence over the traditional Republican Party (GOP) base during the election campaign. The new group dominated the GOP group in terms of new members and endorsement via Twitter follows. Growth of new accounts for the GOP party all but collapsed during the campaign. While the Alt-right group was growing exponentially, it has remained relatively isolated. Counter to the mainstream view, we detected an unexpectedly low number of automated ‘bot’ accounts and accounts associated with foreign intervention in the Trump-supporting group. Our work demonstrates a powerful method for tracking the evolution of societal groups and reveals complex social processes behind political changes.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:JB was supported by Economic and Social Research Council (ES/L000113/1).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Silverman, Dr Eric
Creator Roles:
Silverman, E.Methodology, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing
Authors: Bryden, J., and Silverman, E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Bryden, Silverman
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 14(4):e0214854
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
727661SPHSU Core Renewal: Complexity in Health Improvement Research ProgrammeLaurence MooreMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/14IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
Chief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU14