The language people use to talk about an issue tells a lot about their views on that issue. We never hear a pro-life person talk about how they are anti-choice, nor a pro-choice person call themselves anti-life. Similarly, we know that people who use the #GlobalWarming hashtag are more likely to be climate skeptics and deniers than people who use #ClimateChange in their tweets. These observations made me wonder if we can learn thing about people's views based on whether they use candidates' first name only, last name or full name.
Using Topsy.com to search the various names of the top Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, I compared the results for these name combinations for Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The full results are presented in the table below:
Topsy allows us to look at not just the amount of buzz for each candidate, based on the number of tweets mentioning their names, but also which formulation of their name is most likely to be searched and what is the sentiment toward the candidate of the people using each form of the candidates' names.
Which variation of a candidate's name is most popular depends a lot on the uniqueness of their name. When someone says "Trump," we all know who they mean. The same is true for "Carson," "Jeb," "Hillary," and "Bernie." But if someone says "Donald," they might be talking about a duck, not a candidate (unless they say, "The Donald"). Similarly, "Ben" is hardly a rare name and searches for it will capture tweets unrelated to Ben Carson. These days, the vast majority of mentions of Bush and Clinton refer to Jeb and Hillary, respectively, but not exclusively. That being said, many of the mentions of Bush and Clinton refer to the dynastic connections of Jeb and Hillary to their familial past presidents.
What we find is that people are far more likely to search for just "Trump" than "Donald Trump" or "Donald" (in that order), but that even searches for "Donald Trump" score higher than any search for Carson or Bush. People are more likely to search for "Carson" than for "Ben Carson." But both of these searches far outnumber the very generic search for "Ben." The search for Bush (excluding the use of Jeb OR George) yielded three times as many hits as searches for just "Jeb" or for "Jeb Bush."
So for the Republicans in this analysis, "Trump," "Bush" and "Carson" are the most commonly searched name variations.
Among the two Democratic candidates, "Hilary" is the most searched version for Hillary Clinton, but all three of her variations are searched more than ANY other candidate, from either party, except for Trump. Overall, there are about 200,000 more searches for Clinton than for Trump. And while we might suspect that her mentions went up due to the Benghazi hearing, the impact was not as much as one might think. In each of her three name variations, excluding mentions of "Benghazi" only removed about 50,000-60,000 mentions out of her hundreds of thousands.
With respect to Bernie Sanders, one might have guessed that "Bernie" would be the most popular, and it seems to be among his zealots (see discussion of sentiment below), but "Bernie Sanders" and "Sanders" are neck and neck for his mentions. Additionally, mentions for Sanders outnumber Carson's and compete easily with Bush.
As for sentiment, this is where things get really interesting. Trump get a positive sentiment score on all variations (positive=50+%). "Donald Trump" comes in at 51, but "Trump" and "Donald" score in the high 60s (on a 100 point scale).
For Ben Carson, people spelling out his whole name in their tweets have a very negative view of the candidate (27 sentiment score). People who simply refer to "Carson" score 56 on sentiment.
For Jeb Bush, use of his full name scored the highest sentiment, but regardless of the name variation, his sentiment scores are quite negative. They range from 29 to 38.
Hillary Clinton also scores low on sentiment for mentions of "Hillary" and "Clinton" (31 and 32, respectively). When her whole name is spelled out, her sentiment score bumps up to 44.
Like Trump, Bernie Sanders gets positive sentiment scores no matter how people mention him. And his sentiment scores are consistently positive, ranging from 59 to 70 among his zealots referencing him as simply "Bernie."
The bottom line is that how you refer to the candidate provides some insight into how you feel about the candidate.
On a side note, you can tell whether a speaker hates Democrats based on how they refer to the party's name. The charter for the party names it the "Democratic Party." But Republicans, especially conservative Republicans like to call it the "Democrat Party." This is a deliberate slur against the party (suggesting that the party doesn't deserve the "Democratic" moniker).
This naming convention has become so thoughtless on the part of Republicans in Congress, that you will often hear them say things like, "We hope we can find common ground with our colleagues in the Democrat Party."
That's right, even when the Republicans are saying things that are supposed to be in the spirit of cooperative, they still use an insult to refer to their colleagues. For my money, if someone calls you an insulting name while reaching out in the spirit of cooperation, they are being insincere.