The State of the Union’s Most Tweetable Topics

January 21, 2015

The State of the Union’s Most Tweetable Topics

President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night was full of ambitious plans, unscripted jokes and historic firsts. But what topics mentioned by President Obama resonated with viewers the most? CLS Strategies ran the numbers on real-time Twitter conversations about the State of the Union, and found that the cornerstone of the President’s speech – the economy – was far and away the most tweeted-about agenda item from his speech. President Obama laid out his case for “middle class economics,” focusing on tax cuts, paid sick leave and maternity leave, and expanded access to child care. 

The second-most tweeted pillar of the President’s agenda was his new proposal to establish free and universal community college for “those who are willing to work for it.” This was followed closely by tweets responding to Obama’s wide-ranging national security agenda, which included an assessment of Afghanistan and Iraq, the civil war in Syria, transnational terrorist organizations such as ISIL, the downfall of Russia’s economy, ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran, and the recent movement toward warmer relations with Cuba. 

The loser of the night? Cybersecurity, which had been anticipated as a central theme of the President’s speech in the wake of the Sony hack, was the subject of less than 9,000 tweets overall and was given less attention in the President’s speech than expected.

One notable outlier from our analysis was President Obama’s discussion of America’s “values,” which encompassed everything from ending torture and closing Guantanamo, to embarking on civil, bipartisan debates to come to agreements on issues such as immigration and criminal justice system reform. While Twitter conversations around the other topics peaked and then fell, our graph below shows that discussions on these social, values issues continued on into the hour after the speech ended. While some of these subjects are controversial, many are impactful on a deeply personal level, from condemning the persecution of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to evoking the incidents in Ferguson, Missouri. Between these social issues and the President’s economic and education proposals, our analysis underscores that what people respond to most are issues that impact their personal lives and identities. 

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