28 Jun 2013
The filibuster by Texas State Senator Wendy Davis on June 25th to block a new piece of legislation that would have resulted in many more restrictions on abortion in Texas brought a lot of attention to the Lone Star state this week. Day-long filibusters, parliamentary machinations, vocal protesters, and changing the time stamps on votes all make for great political theater, even more so as it involves a highly contentious issue and inter-party fights. From our perspective, one of the most compelling elements of this story was the strong response within social media (including Twitter) that this event engendered. In the course of a few hours, tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of tweets were sent using the hashtag #standwithwendy in order to show their support for the senator’s efforts.
We collected all geocoded tweets from June 25th and 26th that contained the text “standwithwendy”, resulting in a dataset of 3,702 tweets. Although we are primarily interested in the spatial dimension of tweeting activity, the way this event played out over time is particularly interesting. Using our dataset, one can see how this event – or at least its reflection in Twitterspace – started building around 8pm on the 25th and peaking around midnight as the deadline for the special session neared, though it maintained momentum well into the early hours of the 26th when the legislative session was officially declared over and the bill defeated.
Source: DOLLY, n = 3702 #StandWithWendy tweets on June 25th and 26th, 2013; Darker shading indicates greater intensity
|Source: DOLLY, n = 3702 #StandWithWendy tweets on June 25th and 26th, 2013; Darker shading indicates greater intensity; Normalized by the total number of tweets sent during the same time period|
We can also look into the relative amount of tweets at the county level. The map below shows a small section of the country from Texas to South Carolina. One can see that Austin, the location of the state capitol and Senator Davis’ filibuster, is very over represented in the number of tweets, as are many other places in Texas. One of the most interesting patterns is within larger metropolitan areas in which the level of tweeting activity around #StandWithWendy varies widely between neighboring counties, as in Atlanta.
|Source: DOLLY, n = 3702 #StandWithWendy tweets on June 25th and 26th, 2013; Normalized by the total number of tweets sent during the same time period|