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College of Information and Communications

  • Lake Murray with all the boats crowded around.

“Trumptilla” surges nationally on social media despite COVID-19

Posted July 8, 2020
Top image: Lake Murray photo from Drift Jam Facebook

Social media conversations about the big boat parade on Lake Murray in support of President Trump are trending nationally, according to the University of South Carolina Social Media Insights Lab, with little criticism of the event being held during the coronavirus. 

Lab researchers looked at more than 17,000 posts since July 2 about several pro-Trump boat parades held over the holiday weekend. Conversations spiked on Sunday, the day of the Lake Murray parade, and now are surging again after a prominent pro-Trump media account, TrumpWarRoom, posted a WACH TV video story about the local event.


“There were similar pro-Trump boat parades elsewhere in the country, but the one on Lake Murray was the big one and the one that got the most social media attention,” said Kaitlyn Park, Insights Lab manager. “Because of concerns about holding indoor events during COVID-19, these 'Trumptilla' boat parades may be replacing the president’s big campaign rallies.”

Organizers say more than 3,400 boats gathered on Lake Murray, calling it the biggest boat parade in history. (According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the previous high total was 1,180 for a 2014 boat parade in Malaysia.)  Similar pro-Trump parades were held in California, Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.


By a large margin, there were more comments about the South Carolina parade than any of the others. Also, comments about the South Carolina parade that expressed sentiment were overwhelmingly positive (57 percent).  There were few negative comments (only two percent) and few mentions of the coronavirus.  

A word cloud capturing comments about the Lake Murray parade reflects the pro-Trump nature of the conversations.  

About the Social Media Insights Lab

The lab is part of the College of Information and Communications. It is used for teaching, academic research and public reports intended to help people better understand issues of the day.

The Insights Lab software, Crimson Hexagon, uses artificial intelligence to interpret data. View a full list of reports  and follow the lab on Twitter at @UofSCInsights

How is sentiment calculated?
The lab uses software developed by Crimson Hexagon, now known as BrandWatch following a merger. The software gauges the emotional tone of conversations using auto-sentiment artificial intelligence technology. This feature is useful for identifying patterns within large sets of social media data, but it should be noted that auto-sentiment has its limits. For example, it does not always recognize sarcasm, nor does it account for posts which may express more than one emotion.

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