Analyzing the Interplay of Public Opinion, Political Ideology, and Demographic Factors in Addressing the Digital Divide Relating to Broadband Infrastructure Sentiment
One aspect of the digital divide relates to disparities in broadband infrastructure access among different individuals and communities. This divide creates significant inequalities, hindering some groups from fully participating in the digital world and accessing essential information and services. Additionally, political polarization surrounding broadband policies arises from differing views on the government's role in promoting equitable connectivity and fostering innovation. Understanding the sentiment surrounding broadband infrastructure and its connection to political ideology can offer valuable insights for addressing the digital divide and implementing effective policies to ensure broadband equality. A dataset of tweets was extracted from Twitter and organized into a CSV file. Utilizing the Textblob Natural Language Processing (NLP) tool, sentiment and polarity scores of each tweet were quantified to discern the prevailing attitudes and emotions expressed by users. Additionally, sentiment scores were cross-referenced with political ideology scores to uncover potential correlations between sentiment and users' political leanings. In doing so, minimal correlation between high and low ideology scores was discovered, with both ends of the spectrum mostly in favor of broadband expansion. However, tweets originating from those with low ideology scores (left leaning) were more numerous than those originating from those with high ideology scores (right leaning). This would seem to indicate a greater interest in broadband expansion from the left, but overall support across the political spectrum. One reason could be that Republicans, traditionally leaning towards smaller government and limited spending, might be hesitant to support large-scale government-funded initiatives, even in the face of broadband challenges in their communities. The observed disparity between Democrats' and Republicans' favorability to broadband expansion can be attributed to a combination of other factors which will be investigated further by comparing maps of broadband infrastructure to political electoral boundaries. Finally, the role of demographic factors, including age, gender, and location, were examined by visualizing scatterplots and comparing mean sentiment scores to understand how they might influence sentiments on broadband infrastructure and its proposed policy implementations. By analyzing these factors together, the study aims to illuminate the interplay between public opinion and political ideology on the necessity to foster broadband equality.
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