(CBS) – Popular political Twitter accounts frequently use the refrain “Twitter is not real life,” and data from a recent CBS News poll backs that up with just 29 percent of respondents saying they use Twitter to follow the campaign, report CBS News election analyst Elena Cox and CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson.
But as one communications professor put it, Twitter plays an “outsized role” in politics today as many politicians and news organizations engage on the platform regularly. According to the recent CBS News Battleground Tracker poll, just 14 percent of that 29 percent who use Twitter said they use it a lot. Half of voters say they use other social media sites like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram to follow the race.
Twitter users only make up a small portion of the population. According to the company’s latest earnings report, the platform said it had 36 million daily active users in the U.S. during the second quarter of 2020. That’s only about 9 percent of the entire country. However, Twitter is a crucial part of the daily routine for most public officials and for journalists.
“Twitter plays an outsized role in U.S. politics and U.S. political media,” Shannon McGregor, an assistant professor of communications at the Hussman School of Media and Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said. “Just the platform itself and the fact that it is such an insular bubble of political users and news media users, it can be sort of a self-reinforcing loop in terms of limiting the range of perspectives, potentially that journalists or political actors are exposed to and reinforcing those, I would say, polarizing ideas,” McGregor said.