Putting Abortion Opinions into Place: A Spatial-Temporal Analysis of Twitter Data

Amanda Stevenson, University of Texas at Austin

There is a large amount of uncertainty about how people feel about reproductive rights and how the distribution of that sentiment varies by location. Large scale surveys ask questions in ways that are susceptible to bias and they rarely give us specific geographical information. On the basis of this uncertain data and their own political ideologies, politicians utilize abortion as a political tool to appeal to voters who are perceived as opposing abortion rights and to appeal to voters who are perceived as supporting abortion rights. Using abortion in this way has implications for access to abortion and other reproductive healthcare. Moments like Wendy Davis’ filibuster of the Texas omnibus abortion restriction bill may precipitate reactions and thus bring latent, hard to measure sentiment to light. We use data from Tweets about Davis’ filibuster to understand the spatial distribution of resistance to and support for abortion restrictions in Texas.

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Presented in Session 66: Digital Records for Demographic Research