Analysts at Floating Sheep, a website run by a group of independent cyber-geography researchers, found there was a spike of racist tweets on Twitter during and after President Obama’s 2012 re-election.
The research group took advantage of the tweets’ geo-codes, which is data showing where they originated from in the U.S. The team searched Twitter for racism-revealing terms and phrases that appeared in the context of tweets mentioning “Obama,” “re-elected,” or “won.”
They then sorted the tweets according to the state they were sent from, and compared the racist tweets to the total number of geocoded tweets coming from that state during the same time period, Nov. 1 to Nov. 7.
To normalize states across population levels, the team then used a location quotient-inspired measure or LQ score — an economic derivation used to analyze norms across geographical locations — to compare a state’s racist tweets to the national average of racist tweets.
So, per the team’s model, an LQ score of 1.0 indicates that the state’s proportion of racist tweets to non-racist tweets is the same as the overall national proportion. A score above 1.0 indicates that the proportion of racist tweets to non-racist tweets is higher than the national proportion. The results are seen in the map above.
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The LQ score was added to the number of Ku Klux Klan organizations known to operate in the state, according to a list compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a watchdog organization that monitors hate groups. The states with the highest combined scores were considered the most racist states in the country. The process was not scientific nor can it be claimed that it gives the most accurate ranking of racism by state.
However, it offers some insight into where some of the most racist people in the United States reside.
Illinois is the least racist state on this list of 10. The hate-filled tweets sent from this state after Obama’s re-election earned it a score of 1.5 on the LQ scale. This, in addition to the four KKK organizations known to be operating in the state, makes Illinois the 10th most racist state in the U.S.