New poll shows Twitter & TikTok aren’t ‘real life’—with exceptions

“‘Twitter isn’t real life,’ has become an oft-repeated truism in American political discourse in recent years—and more recently, to suggest that TikTok users are being turned against President Biden and the economy,” said Evan Roth Smith, Blueprint’s head pollster.

Blueprint’s latest survey—which sampled 1,012 voters nationwide from December 2 to December 5—was conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Blueprint. The new set of data can be accessed here.

The second set of polling from Blueprint’s second survey takes a deep dive into voters’ ideological positioning in relation to President Biden and former President Donald Trump. As part of that component of the poll, this batch of data includes a question asking voters where they get their news, encompassing a range of sources, from CNN and Fox News to X, formerly known as Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok. We also asked respondents how much they paid attention to what is happening in politics and public affairs. For the analysis below, we analyze Democratic respondents who pay attention to politics “most of the time” and use X and TikTok as a news source.

TOP TAKEAWAYS & FINDINGS

Democratic voters overall are less likely to place Biden as to their right on issues than TikTok and Twitter users—but only on certain issues

  • Overall, Democrats who are high-information X users consistently rate Biden as more conservative than Democrats who are not high-information X users.
  • The gap between high-information X-using Democrats and other registered Democrats is the most pronounced on national security (where they view Biden as 10 points more conservative), immigration (+10), crime (+9), health care (+8), and climate change (+8).
  • 41% of high-information X users who are Democrats say Biden is more conservative than they are on Israel and Palestine, 38% say he is more conservative than they are on climate change, and 37% say he is more conservative than they are on immigration. This contrasts with 34%, 30%, and 28% of other Democratic voters.
  • But on specific issues, high-information X users see Biden as less conservative than other Democratic voters such as inflation (10 points less), government spending (5 points less), and trans issues (3 points less).
  • While few high-information Democratic X users say Biden is more liberal than they are on issues, the rest of Democratic voters are significantly more likely to express that sentiment. For example, 27% of non-X users say Biden is more liberal than they are on immigration (compared with only 17% of high-information X users).
  • Democrats who are high-information TikTok users also say Biden is more conservative, 34% on average across the issues, than those who aren’t high-information TikTok users—24% across all issues.
  • 47% of high-information Democratic TikTok users say Biden is more conservative than they are on oil and gas exploration.
  • Issues where high-information Democratic TikTok users view Biden as particularly conservative relative to those in the party who aren’t high-information TikTok users include regulation of business (+18), crime (+18), national security (+17), oil and gas exploration (+17), and immigration (+15).
  • But high-information TikTok users show little difference in perception of Biden with regard to specific political topics, including trans issues (1-point difference), climate change (2-point difference), and government spending (3-point difference).

“‘Twitter isn’t real life,’ has become an oft-repeated truism in American political discourse in recent years—and more recently, to suggest that TikTok users are being turned against President Biden and the economy. These numbers give specificity to these assumptions and, to a certain extent, back them up: political TikTok users are 10 points more likely to see Biden as conservative than their non-TikTok-using peers,” said Evan Roth Smith, Blueprint’s lead pollster. “But the contention that TikTok and Twitter users are uniquely left-wing is more pronounced on some issues. American voters who get their news from TikTok about Biden’s foreign policy, immigration, and business and gas regulation policies are not reflective of people who consume their news in more traditional ways. But on trans issues, climate change, and government spending, TikTok users hold similar perceptions of Biden as voters overall.”

“Meanwhile, voters who get their news from X about Biden’s policies on foreign affairs, crime, health care, and climate change are not reflective of people who consume their news in more traditional ways,” Roth Smith added. “But on inflation, government spending, election integrity, and trans issues, X users hold less conservative perceptions of Biden than voters overall.”

Voters think the Trump is closer to their ideology than Biden on several issues

  • On immigration, 25% of voters say that Biden is “close to their views,” while 44% say Trump is; 57% of voters say that Biden is more liberal than they are, while 46% say Trump is more conservative.
  • On oil and gas exploration, 26% place themselves close to Biden and 43% close to Trump; 51% of voters say Biden is more liberal than they are on oil and gas exploration, while 43% say Trump is more conservative than they are.
  • On crime, 32% of voters say Biden is close to their views, while 44% say that Trump is. 52% of voters say Biden is more liberal than they are, compared to 45% who position Trump as more conservative than they are.
  • On abortion, 48% of voters say Biden is more liberal than they are; an identical amount, 48%, of voters say Trump is more conservative than they are on abortion
  • On government spending and the budget deficit, 54% of voters say Biden is more liberal than they are, while 44% say Trump is more conservative than they are.
  • On health care, 47% of voters say Biden is more liberal than they are, while 48% say Trump is more conservative.
  • On Social Security, 44% of voters say Biden is more liberal than they are, while 48% say Trump is more conservative.
  • There was only one issue, election integrity, where voters placed Biden as closer to their views than Trump—40% for Biden to 38% for Trump.

“There’s no sugarcoating it—the Biden campaign has work to do. On almost every political issue, American voters view Trump as closer to their ideological position than Biden and see Biden as more extreme than Trump,” said Evan Roth Smith, Blueprint’s lead pollster. “After years of Democrats labeling Trump as uniquely extreme, the party’s rhetoric appears to not currently be persuasive. The good news is Biden has 11 months to change voters’ perception of him and of Trump, and a substantive record of broadly appealing, middle-of-the-road accomplishments to make sure Americans know about before they head to the polls in November.

“Our polling has consistently shown that Biden has a track record with broad appeal and accomplishments that are widely popular, but it isn’t breaking through to voters,” Roth Smith added. “Instead, voters are focused on the most divisive and controversial Biden policies, harming the President’s position relative to Trump.”

Full toplines for voters’ ideological positioning can be accessed here and crosstabs here.

About the Poll 

Blueprint commissioned a survey conducted by YouGov of 1,012 voters from Dec. 2 to Dec. 5. nationally, using web panel respondents. The survey was conducted in English, and its margin of error is ±3.4 percentage points.

About Blueprint

Blueprint is a public opinion research initiative designed to study the most crucial voting groups and which policies and messages are breaking through and resonating with them. Through frequent polling and message testing on the most salient political issues, Blueprint will provide insights and recommendations on how to reach the voters who will be essential to delivering the Democrats the White House and control of Congress in 2024. Going beyond the scope of typical message testing, Blueprint will examine whether voters have even heard of or are convinced by the underlying accomplishments that President Biden is spreading the message about, and who voters think these policies are meant to serve.

Blueprint does not advocate for any specific policy agenda; this effort is focused on identifying messaging and narratives (including those that are out-of-the-box or contrary to current conventional wisdom) that will produce winning coalitions for Democrats in 2024.

There is a widely shared view that the central vulnerability that Democrats face in 2024 is not the quality of our current governance or policies, but rather our inability to create a compelling narrative that can sway voters in the most fiercely contested states and congressional districts across the country. Using state-of-the-art polling that incorporates pollster analysis and highly actionable practitioner-oriented data, Blueprint will help campaigns and other stakeholders see where voters stand and how Biden and the Democratic Party can best appeal to those who will shape the outcome of the 2024 elections, including independents and swing voters.

Blueprint also aims to be a go-to resource for the media. Three years into the Biden presidency and a year out from the general election, journalists are diving into why the president’s approval ratings remain low and why he’s not getting more credit for his accomplishments. As the 2024 cycle progresses, Blueprint’s polling and research will serve as a vital tool for answering these and other questions.
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