What Happens When the President Calls You an ‘Enemy of the People’? Election Officials and Public Sentiment

48 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2022

See all articles by Joelle Gross

Joelle Gross

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Samuel Baltz

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Charles Stewart III

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: August 31, 2022

Abstract

False information about the legitimacy of recent American elections has prompted a barrage of harsh rhetoric against the officials who administer them. This spike in negativity, largely occurring through social media, is driving people out of these essential jobs. This article measures the extent of this negativity, how it has trended over time, which state administrations are targeted by it most, and what sorts of accounts are sending it. By collecting every reply to any Twitter account managed by the agency or person officially responsible for administering a state’s elections, we show that the usage of keywords related to election fraud has spiked in recent years, while the sentiments of the replies have grown almost universally harsher. While left-leaning repliers are usually negative towards Republican officials, and vice versa, some officials have begun to receive negative replies from both the left and right, with sustained pile-ons led almost entirely by right-leaning repliers.

Keywords: Election Officials, Election Administration, Social Media, State and Local Politics, Sentiment Analysis

Suggested Citation

Gross, Joelle and Baltz, Samuel and Stewart III, Charles, What Happens When the President Calls You an ‘Enemy of the People’? Election Officials and Public Sentiment (August 31, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4206554 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4206554

Joelle Gross (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( email )

30 Wadsworth Street (Rm 470)
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Samuel Baltz

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( email )

30 Wadsworth Street (Rm 470)
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Charles Stewart III

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

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