The South: Where the war on Christmas was lost

Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders during game in Atlanta.
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Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders during game in Atlanta.

The so-called "War on Christmas" reprises its role in the media every December.

Leading the way is Christmas crusader and TV personality Bill O'Reilly, who is so associated with the concept that the first three results on a Google Images search for "war on Christmas" are actually photos of O'Reilly.

Not to be outdone, every other major outlet has a focus on it, including this Washington Post story saying the war is over, and Jesus won.

If that's true, where were the strongholds for that win? To help answer, we turn to that most modern of data: Twitter sentiment.

Crunching tweets allows us to look exactly where in America people love—and hate—Christmas the most. Raw numbers from media analytics firm Brandwatch show the state-by-state breakdown, and indicate that the South is where Christmas gets the most love.

Look at the states dominating the top of the list: Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina, Texas, Mississippi and North Carolina are all up there. These are all Republican-voting strongholds, home to a dominant Christian citizenship.

The chart features 43 states (some low-population states like Montana and Alaska did not have a significant number of mentions to be reliable) combined with language analysis based on Brandwatch's proprietary algorithms. The positive and negative sentiment counts allows us to create a ratio to see where Christmas love conquers hate.

Even in the least-Crhistmas-loving state, Maine, love outnumbers hate by over 2-to-1. But that's a pretty narrow win compared to the South, with ratios over 5-to-1 and some reaching closer to 10-to-1.

"Their love for Christmas songs helps them" -Phillip Agnew, Brandwatch content researcher

What's moving the needle here? Why is the South so happy about Christmas? Phillip Agnew, content researcher at Brandwatch, said: "One thing we found really interesting is their love for Christmas songs on the radio helps them get into a festive spirit, with lots of Twitter mentions" about holiday music. Agnew highlighted that the rest of the U.S. criticized Christmas music eight times more than those in Southern states.

As a whole, the rest of America had 75 percent more Christmas hate mentions than the South did, while the South had 35 percent more love mentions than its northern neighbors.

This sentiment also applies to holiday spending. Agnew points out that the South was twice as happy to "make it rain over the holidays," based on their tweets discussing excitement around shopping.

Santa, and Bill O'Reilly, would be proud.

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