Republican’s Tweet Revenge
Taylor Buley, 01.13.10, 4:50 PM ETBurlingame, Calif. –
Compared with Barack Obama’s campaign romance with social networking technologies like Twitter, Republican presidential hopeful John McCain was quite the luddite. His sending of telegrams likely didn’t help the senator gain any tech-savvy street cred.
Since the campaign ended, the technological tables appear to have turned. According to a new study being released Thursday, Republican Congressmen are much more active on Twitter than their Democratic counterparts. And the member of Congress with the largest number of followers on Twitter? None other than Arizona Sen. John McCain. No one in Congress comes close to McCain’s million-strong following.
Political revenge can be so tweet.
The mashup study, “Twongress: The Power of Twitter in Congress,” is authored by Mark Senak, a policy wonk at public relations firm Fleishman Hillard. It profiles the behavior of politicians in both the House and Senate. Senak cross-referenced active members of Congress identified by SourceWatch as having Twitter accounts with a free Twitter analysis tool called Twitalyzer that measures things like authority and influence.
The research showed that in the House of Representatives, Republicans are far more prolific, sending out 29,162 Tweets through early January, five times as many micro messages as their Democratic counterparts. In the Senate, Republicans’ 6,310 tweets outnumber Democrats’ by a far smaller 35% margin.
Because Republican Congressmen tweet more often, more people subscribe, or “follow,” their Twitter feeds. Thanks in part to lots of Twitter activity from groups like Top Conservatives On Twitter (TCOT), Republicans occupy 18 of the top 20 spots in terms of followers on Twitter. Republicans “follow” people back, too–or at least more than Democrats. The study says they subscribe to more people’s feeds by a factor of 10.
Author Senak theorizes that the shift toward Republican twittering is more a reflection of the fact that Republicans have had to become more resourceful and inventive in the way they communicate with constituents and media than it is of any big cultural sea change on either side of the aisle. One other possibility: marginalized Republicans are looking to commiserate with other conservatives.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint had the most clout and influence in the Senate, according to Twitalyzer. In the House, Ohio Congressman John Boehner had the most followers, and Florida representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen led in overall clout and influence.
The study’s sample is small, since not every member of Congress is on Twitter and not all those on Twitter are active enough to be analyzed. But the data suggest–even if somewhat unscientifically–that while all politicians are good at keeping on message, if that message is a tweet, it’s most likely from a Republican.