Trends of Reddit: Politics

This is the first of three articles on an analysis of Reddit community, utilizing RedditProfile.com – a demonstration of the Metacortex platform. The goal is to analyze if there are any political leanings of the Reddit communities we follow.

Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. — Robert A. Heinlein

U.S. Politics: Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians

It probably comes as a surprise to no one – the U.S. is dominated by two political parties – Democrats and Republicans. Below are the results of the 2016 election (from Politico.com):

November 6, 2018 (mid-term elections, after 2016) may change the map. but this isn’t an analysis of the United States as a whole, it’s an analysis of Reddit.com.

As it happens, Reddit is definitely more left leaning. However, perhaps not as much as you’d suspect. For instance, by volume of discussion, Republicans and Democrats by discussion volume are discussed equally. Libertarians being discussed 4% as much[1] (roughly matching the 2016 elections):

Although both Republican’s and Democrats are discussed at roughly the same rate, in terms of sentiment or “how people feel” [when discussing on Reddit] Democrats are less negative. The fact is, both Democrats and Republicans are discussed relatively negatively, with Republican’s about 40% worse. On the other hand, discussion around Libertarians are about as positive as Republicans are discussed negatively:

Regardless, due to the sheer volume of discussion around the two main political parties, it’s clear Democrats have an advantage discussed 25x more than Libertarian’s and 40% less negatively than Republicans… Perhaps we [society] should be looking at political parties we like, as opposed to the one we hate the least.

If interested, you can compare these trends yourself on Redditprofile.com/compare, going into the mid-terms – it appears to close to tell, possibly a very small lead by Democrats:

I should note… in 2016, Trump at this point had a clear lead. It’s not at all clear who will win this election (based on the information fed into my system). I would not bet on FiveThirtyEights prediction for the U.S. House at the moment:

My prediction is closer to an even split.

Political Topics: Guns & Abortion

In addition to political parties, there are also politically charged topics. Two examples are “gun(s)” and “abortion(s)”, although that doesn’t directly correlate (although it nearly does) with a political party, it does correlate with issues voters care about (this could be very useful for politicians). In terms of trends, guns are definitely discussed more on Reddit[2]:

This is not at all surprising with the regular discussion around mass shootings and natural fear of weapons that comes from it. Guns are quite literally discussed non-stop[2]:

Similarly, guns are also discussed in a much more negative light[2]:

In an attempt to find a positive topic, let’s add the terms “diversity” and “welfare” to our comparison:

Although “diversity” is discussed the least, it is at least one of the typical “politically charged” terms, that are positively discussed on Reddit.

Reddit on Trump

When reviewing politics today, it’s almost a requirement to review sentiment around Trump. I don’t think it surprises anyone the consensus is Trump is awful:

In terms of the “promoter” score for Trump, it is a solid negative. Promoter score, refers to the number of people recommending or promoting a topic, minus those detracting from a topic. This is very similar to Net Promoter Score (NPS), utilizing surveys to identify how many people will “promote” a topic, however distinctly different, because Metacortex tracks the number of people actually promoting a stance:

With the above, the thought of Trump being re-elected at this point is likely non-existent (for reference during the election vs Hillary Clinton, Trump was slightly up). However, who knows what will happen until then.

Reddit: Capitalism, Socialism or Communism

Finally, we will explore how Reddit discusses several political ideologies: capitalism, socialism, and communism. To be honest, I was utterly surprised by the results, in terms of discussion capitalism is discussed most (not the surprising part):

This was not all surprising, given that the majority of the news comes from the United States and the system is ingesting subreddits on cryptocurrencies, stock markets, and investing. However, it should be noted that there are very rarely consistent discussions on ideology (aka lots of spikes in discussion(s)):

What was surprising, was how dramatically positive capitalism was discussed, as opposed to socialism and communism:

In other words, capitalism is dramatically more popular than other politically ideologies on Reddit, at least based on the subreddit ingested by the system.

Conclusions

Overall, my impression of Reddit is that it’s generally politically moderate. This is at least based off the communities that our system ingests, this would change if we started following different subreddits. However, we do follow most of the main subreddits for news, technology, science, and more.

For those interested, it’s fairly easy to do this analysis yourself at Redditprofile.com/compare and this comes as part of the base system for Metacortex – if you’re interested, reach out! We set this up for companies, self-hosted and just send the system your messages.

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