Ted Cruz Wins: Texas GOP Senate Runoff Gets Nasty On Twitter

Supporters of both Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst battled on Twitter on the last day of the hotly contested Republican primary for theopen U.S. Senate seat in Texas. Cruz is the former state solicitor general, who is backed by the Tea Party. His opponent, Dewhurst, who is considered more moderate, is theLieutenant Governor, and he has the backing of Governor Rick Perry.

Cruz's supporters seemed to be far more vocal, judging by the number of pro-Cruz tweets. A search for the two candidates revealed that about half of the top 50 tweets about Dewhurst were negative, whereas over 90% of the top 50 tweets about Cruz were negative.

In terms of the issues, the two charges most often leveled against Dewhurst on Twitter were that he “killed TSA anti-groping bill,” and that he “wanted to make franchise tax an income tax.” On the other hand, Ted Cruz is accused of harming job growth through “extreme conservatism,” and having a record of waffling on immigration issues. 

However, the campaign, at least on Twitter, seemed to have very little to do with the issues on either side. The primary concerns seemed to be which candidate was a true Texas Republican.  Twitter supporters of Dewhurst emphasized that had brought in supporters and campaign speakers from outside of Texas and was a "Washington lawyer," while Cruz’s Twitter backers claimed that Dewhurst and Democrats supporting him and his rallies and that he was RINO (Republican in name only).  As previously mentioned, Cruz seemed to have more supporters on Twitter, so his supporters’ arguments were more prevalent.

Some Dewhurst supporters said that Cruz’s extensive twitter support is due to “Cruzbots” (fake accounts posting pro-Cruz spam), and some users mentioned specific people they believed to be bots. Calling someone a Cruzbot usually led to angry and insult-filled Twitter conversation. Interestingly, there didn’t seem to be any discussion of “Dewhurstbots.”

In this hotly contested race, there seemed to be one point of bipartisan agreement: hundreds of tweets mentioned how glad they would be to see the end of TV attack ads and cold calls from both sides.

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Amy Stoller

Amy Stoller is a graduate student in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is interested in the role of media in the Middle East and Central Asia and has worked with projects such as Watching America and Alive.in.

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