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.
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.
With an LQ score of 1.3, Florida had one of the lowest scores of the Top 10. However, with five active KKK organizations existing in the state, it earned a place on this list as the ninth most racist state.
Louisiana had a moderately high LQ score of 3.3, but because it has three KKK organizations on record, the lowest number of any state on SPLC’s list, it sits in the eighth spot.
Arkansas has five known active KKK organizations, the same number as Tennessee. The state has a 1.9 LQ score that makes it the seventh most racist state in the country.
Tennessee’s 3.1 LQ score is lower than North Carolina’s, but its five KKK chapters makes it the sixth most racist state in the U.S.
5. North Carolina
North Carolina’s LQ score at 1.5 was a little less than half of Georgia’s. However the state is home to nine KKK organizations, the third highest of any state.
The state of Georgia has a 3.6 LQ score, but with eight KKK chapters, the state is in the No. 3 spot on the list.
In Mississippi, the number of active KKK organizations is a whopping 11, according to the SPLC. The state also has the second highest LQ score, topping out at 7.4.
The SPLC says Texas has the most KKK chapters than any other state in the nation. Along with Florida, it had one of the lowest LQ scores of 1.3, but because Texas has 18 KKK organizations, almost twice as many as any of the states on SPLC’s list, it made it to the top of this list as the most racist state in the U.S.