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Just How Big Is Donald Trump's 'Twitter Army'?

Donald Trump
Donald Trump's "Twitter Army" is much more politically engaged than many experts gave them credit for, according to a recently released report. (Reuters photo)

One of the biggest arguments against Donald Trump's presidential campaign has been his reliance on social media—Twitter in particular—to reach out to his voters.

Social media users don't turn out has been the mantra of so-called political experts for nearly a decade. But a new analysis of Trump's "Twitter Army"—an audience of more than 8 million social media users—is once again tearing up the political playbook.

The multichannel database marketing company Stirista recently matched the Twitter followers of the leading presidential candidates to its massive database of U.S. consumers and businesspeople to see what insights could be gleaned from the information. And while the company looked at both Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, it was the businessman's results that have people talking.

"Donald Trump's 8.1 million followers revealed a wider political base than might be expected, with less than half being registered Republicans," the report stated. "While 43.5 percent of Trump followers were Republicans, Democrats comprised 31.1 percent, and 25.4 percent were unaffiliated."

That's surprising, but not something that would necessarily turn heads. It's what Stirista's research turned up by digging deeper than mere political affiliation that opened a lot of eyes.

"Curious about the extent to which Twitter followers are actually political supporters," the organization surveyed a sample of Trump and Clinton supporters last month. Nearly three-quarters of Trump followers said they supported his candidacy; meanwhile, 11 percent of Clinton followers said they supported Trump, as well.

The data showed Trump's audience is very similar to Clinton's in terms of racial minorities, educational levels and income ranges. But they're also very similar in another aspect that is particularly curious, given Clinton's lifelong involvement in politics and Trump's previous forays into entertainment and reality television.

Of Trump followers on Twitter, more than half—50.4 percent—are regular voters, compared to 54.5 percent of Clinton's audience. Infrequent voters make up 38.5 percent of his audience, compared to 36.4 percent of Clinton's.

Not only do Trump supporters vote, but many of them contribute financially to political activities. Their contributions break down as follows:

  • $100 or Less — 2 percent
  • $101 to $250 — 23 percent
  • $251 to $500 — 19 percent
  • $501 to $1,000 — 16 percent
  • $1,001 or More — 40 percent

Stirista also analyzed the likely political views of Trump's Twitter followers. It found:

  • 68 percent oppose abortion
  • 74 percent oppose gay "marriage"
  • 79 percent oppose gun control
  • 87 percent oppose Obamacare
  • 90 percent oppose amnesty or loosening current immigration laws

"Surprisingly, a third of Trump followers are registered Democrats," Stirista's executive summary of the report states. "Other than gender and race, Trump and Clinton supporters share remarkably similar demographics. When it comes to issues, Trump followers are less extreme than may be expected on gay marriage, gun control and abortion but vehement on immigration and the Affordable Care Act."

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