Donald Trump was among only two of the 12 Republican presidential candidates in 2016 primaries who used the "language of war" in tweets — "characterized by competition" that focused on performance, style, personal attacks and his standing in the polls," according to research disclosed Friday.
The other candidate was then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who suspended his campaign in May 2016, leaving Trump the presumptive GOP candidate.
Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton that November.
According to research published in the International Journal of Communications at the University of Southern California, Trump's focus on the "language of war" in his Twitter posts were "highly competitive" and centered on "the immediate realities of winning or losing, to deliver" their points, Newsweek reported Friday.
The research, which analyzed more than 22,000 tweets posted by the GOP primary candidates, was conducted by researchers at the University of Buffalo in New York and Georgia State University.
"With every round of elections, more and more people are getting their information directly from the candidates through platforms like Twitter," Yotam Ophir, an assistant professor of communication at the University at Buffalo, said in a statement.
"Twitter gives candidates more control and agency over their message than the traditional mass media — yet we know little about what politicians do with this power," he said.
Ophir conducted the study with Dror Walter, a Georgia State assistant professor.
The researchers broke down the tweets into two categories: "issues" and "strategy."
Most candidates' posts fell in the "issues" category, which used Twitter to "discuss and promote policy and decision-making as well as a place to identify and solve problems."
But Trump and Kasich posted tweets in the "strategy" category, the researchers found.
Those tweets drew "the audience's attention to the motivation of the people depicted," according to previous research Ophir and Walter cited.
The approach had "the effect of encouraging cynicism towards individual politicians and politics at large by making voters feel a politician's words are based on self-interest and ambition for electoral success rather than their genuine opinion," Newsweek reports.
In addition, the "strategy" method was most effective "as the day of voting loomed," according to Newsweek.
"While there will have been a variety of factors that led to the result of the 2016 elections, it is interesting that, ultimately, the two candidates using the strategy frame were the last two in the race."
However, the "strategy" approach comes at a cost, Ophir said in the release.
Their research found the method to "consistently have detrimental effects on the democratic process, as it tends to increase cynicism among voters," he said.
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