Notes on a Continuing Saga: More Trump Tweets

12 Aug

It has been a tumultuous three months for Donald Trump, his party, and his country, and probably not in that order. His nomination at the Republican convention, his wife’s sounds-familiar speech there (truth to be told, with two lifted passages in toto her rhetorical trespasses probably wouldn’t even get her thrown out of school), and his barrage of subsequent, incendiary pronouncements, have made for an interesting campaign, no?

I’m counting those three months’ worth of controversy here, because we last paid a visit to Mr. Trump’s tweet account about that long ago, and you doubtless want to know what communicative mischief he’s been up to in the interim.

So I retraced my steps back to the trusty site for yet one more take-out order of Trump’s latest dispatches from the hustings – and he has been dispatching, to be sure. (Note: not knowing twdocs’ distribution policy on its downloads, I have again not made the workbook available here. If you can filch $7.80 from petty cash you’re in business, though. Note in addition there may be some issues with opening the downloads in Excel 2016. Contact twdocs if events warrant.)

Since May 10, the date of his final tweet considered in my May 12 post, the man who put the candid in candidate has pumped out an additional 983 tweets, broken out thusly:


While his output was never neatly curved, Trump’s tweet numbers have been patently tempered of late, notably down from his January-February distributions of 481, 471, and 418. One might be moved to explain the July spike with a guess about a tweet frenzy stoked by the Republican nominating convention July 18-21, but the nominee signed off on 37 tweets in the course of that four-day event – in keeping with the remainder of his July activity, though his 18 tweets on the 21st do jostle the average.

Now in the interests of historical compare-and-contrasting, I applied same the key-word search (whose mechanics are detailed here; again, the percentages denote the fraction of tweets containing the word or phrase) I had conducted in May to the same terms here, more specifically to the 983 post-May 10 tweets. The results in May:


And now:


Of course the citations of erstwhile rivals have all but disappeared from the current distributions, but a few surprises have been sprung upon the latter list, not the least of which perhaps is the halving of mentions of the tweeter himself. I’m not sure how this newfound diffidence is to be explained, and by this most unshrinking of candidates, other than to allow that the press of his nascent campaign has redirected Trump’s fingers to other keys and targets. I would not have predicted the relative boom in references to Bernie Sanders, either, many of which malign his failed campaign and capitulation to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

But of course no surprises attend the steep escalation in tweets aimed at Hillary Clinton, his now-official opponent. Indeed – of the 270 post-convention tweets Trump has filed (remember the screen shot above dates from May 11), the Clinton/Hillary-bearing tweets have moved up to 15.56% and 28.89% respectively, with the Bernie/Sanders splits bouncing to 11.11%/5.56%. Moreover, tweets sporting the name Trump have retrenched again, down now to just 14.07%. One assumes again this is a manner of zero-summing at work; given the choice between self-puffery or the chance to assail his opponent, the latter takes the day. One has to make the most of his 140 characters, after all.

Thus the adjective “crooked”, the modifier Trump dependably pairs with Hillary Clinton’s name (in fact he calls her Crooked once in a while in stand-alone capacity, as if it’s her first name) finds its way into 16.28% of all the post-May 10 tweets, with the sobriquet “Crooked Hillary” informing 13.84%.

In sum, the tweets make for interesting reading, and on a variety of levels; apart from their vituperative cast, they mint the impression of a problem-free campaign on a roll, poised to smash a hapless opponent in November.

You may also want to decide if a measure of revisionism seasons the tweets. If you’re downloading, scan Trump’s tweets of August 1, the day he averred in an ABC television interview that Vladimir Putin is “…not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want”. It was rather immediately pointed out to Trump that Russian troops have held down parts of the Ukraine for some time, and his tweet replies: “When I said in an interview that Putin is ‘not going into Ukraine, you can mark it down,’ I am saying if I am President. Already in Crimea!” It’s your call, seasoned journalist.

Now for another one of those spreadsheet points that, in the interests of staving off allegations of revisionism of my own, I had hadn’t previously understood. When I attempted to filter, or group, tweets for the July 18-21 span during which the Republican convention was convened, I entered these values in the Grouping dialog box:


That seemed like the thing to do, but a click of OK brought about:


That is, the Grouping instructions, phrased Starting and Ending at, in fact seem to merely identify the first and last dates in the greater grouping scheme, including the greater and more than residual categories. In order to admit the 21st into the actual data mix, then, I needed to enter 7/22/2016 into the Ending at: field, yielding


That’s a pretty quirky take on grouping; but neither Mr. Gates, nor Mr. Trump, take my calls.

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