Church or Beer? Americans on Twitter

The bloggers at Floating Sheep specialize in analzying geo-coded data on the internet.  That is, they study not only what people say on the Internet, but where they say it. They examined all geotagged tweets sent within the continental USA between June 22 and June 28 (about 10 million in total) and extracted all tweets containing the word “church” (17,686 tweets of which half originated on Sunday) or “beer” (14,405 tweets which are much more evenly distributed  throughout the week).

The write up and results of this are presented in a county by county map which goes from deep blue (much more beer), light blue (more beer), white (beer and church equal), pink (more church than beer), red (much more church). Be sure to double click for a larger map to see the counties more easily.

Not surprising they found a mostly deep red Southeastern USA, and a mostly deep blue Northeastern USA.

Of course not everything falls in line with the red (Republican) counties and the blue (Democratic) counties. Cuyahoga (Cleveland, Ohio) and downtown Chicago are deep red, obviously due to very religious African Americans. My suburban Cleveland county is deep blue even though it is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans (one of those key swing counties that usually goes with the national trend). Most of the Cleveland Diocese is a very deep blue.

Where is your county or diocese on the beer-church spectrum?

H/T to both CNN and RNS for covering this.

Jack Rakosky


4 responses to “Church or Beer? Americans on Twitter”

  1. Jeff Reed Avatar
    Jeff Reed

    Interesting that the source county of PrayTell is rather dark blue.

    1. Jack Rakosky Avatar
      Jack Rakosky

      @Jeff Reed – comment #1:

      See their maps on the Beer Belly of America

      We were quite surprised, however, when we did a simple comparison between grocery stores and bars to discover a remarkable geographically phenomenon. We had expected that grocery stores would outnumber bars and for most parts of North America that is the case. But we could also clearly see the “beer belly of America” peeking out through the “t-shirt of data”.

      Starting in Illinois, the beer belly expands up into Wisconsin and first spreads westward through Iowa/Minnesota and then engulfs Nebraska, and the Dakotas before petering out (like a pair of love handles) in Wyoming and Montana.

      These types of analysis are relatively new, and we do not have the decades of survey research that have allowed us remove many sources of bias in that type of data.

      Nevertheless, religion in particular is a very geographic phenomenon. That has been established for quite a while. What we now have are a lot of new geographical and cultural databases (most of which we don’t understand very well) that can produce “interesting data.”

  2. Jim McKay Avatar
    Jim McKay

    @Jeff Reed – comment #1:
    The presumed opposition of church and beer is peculiar, almost a throwback to Prohibition. That contrast is less among Catholics and Lutherans than among Baptists and Methodists. ( just examples; the difference is probably more like date of immigration) So that may explain the preponderance of beer in MN and WI

    But I have no explanation for Southern CA. Why aren’t Ventura and Santa Barbara HH (blue) on the second map?

    1. Terri Miyamoto Avatar
      Terri Miyamoto

      I got my theology degree at a Methodist seminary. Once they were organizing a big dinner with a speaker, and had no place large enough on campus. They made arrangements at the Catholic college/retreat center just down the road, who set up as they always do outside dinners, with a bottle of wine on each table. The Methodist hosts come in and see all that wine; “No, no, you have to take away the bottles before anyone gets here!” (Note that I remain Catholic!)

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