The Spin Factor

Party Reinforcement

Among the top 20 most-retweeted accounts by Congress over the last week, there was no overlap between Democrats and Republicans. Instead, each party focused on highlighting their “own.”

Congress showcased its tribal mentality last week, with Democrats and Republicans exclusively retweeting their “own.” For example, Republicans retweeted @WhiteHouse and @SenateGOP, while Democrats retweeted @HouseJudiciary and @NRDems. In fact, among the top 20 most-retweeted accounts by Congress, there is no overlap between Democrats and Republicans.

While Democrats had nearly twice as many retweets as Republicans (1,817 vs. 905), the GOP appears to be more consistent in the accounts they are retweeting. The White House’s Twitter handle nabbed more than 10% (95 retweets) of Republicans’ retweets over the last week, while Democrats retweeted a wider range of accounts, including individual lawmakers, committees and media outlets.

Watercooler

Tweeting Presidential

The confirmed Democratic 2020 presidential candidates appear to all be tweeting from the same playbook. The group’s most-used words include people, president, change, country, fight and Americans.

The 11 confirmed Democratic 2020 presidential candidates are in campaign-mode on Twitter. The group’s most-used words over the last week were people, president, change, country, fight and Americans.

A deep dive into the Twitter activity of individual candidates – such as Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Kirstin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) – shows significant similarities in the language they use. Time will tell if this trend will continue as the field narrows, or if the candidates will begin to use the social media platform to differentiate themselves. We’ll be watching.

All the President's Friends

An Outlier in Retweet Trends?

All the President’s Friends bucked Twitter trends this week. As the tweet volume of the accounts President Trump follows on Twitter increased, so did their average number of retweets.

We saw a new trend in the Twitter activity of the accounts President Trump follows last week. As the group’s volume of tweets increased, so did their average number of retweets.

Typically, average retweets are negatively correlated with the overall number of tweets from a group because their followers’ engagement is spread out over a larger volume of tweets.

However, All the President’s Friends’ tweets this week received a similar amount of engagement, even as more people tweeted throughout the day. The group saw the highest number of tweets and retweets around last week’s State of the Union.

The Spin Factor

A Tale of Two Shutdowns

It’s not surprising that the partial government shutdown dominated Congress’ Twitter activity last week, but a breakdown of the top topics by party show some interesting divides in how lawmakers framed the issue.

The 35-day partial government shutdown was top of mind – and top of Twitter – for both Republicans and Democrats in Congress over the last week. But a closer look at the groups’ top topics show some interesting differences in the language they use…and their political strategy.

For example, “shutdown” was the top word used on Twitter by congressional Democrats, with 966 mentions in tweets. For Republicans, it was the third most-used word on Twitter but totaled only 164 mentions.

Meanwhile, the analysis shows that Democrats are using Twitter to blame President Trump for the shutdown, with “trumpshutdown” getting 355 mentions. On the other hand, the data indicate that Republicans are likely trying to place ownership with Democrats, with 156 mentions of their colleagues across the aisle.

Last week’s Twitter activity also uncovered an interesting takeaway in how each party frames the debate, with Democrats focusing more on the wall and Republicans concentrating on border security. Democrats had about 2.5 times as many tweets as Republicans mentioning the word “wall” (83 vs. 34), while Republicans had nearly 1.7 times as many tweets as Democrats mentioning the word “border” (210 vs. 127.)

Tweeter in Chief

Wall Trumps Shutdown

“Wall” was President Trump’s most-used word on Twitter last week, with 13 mentions. In comparison, the president only mentioned the word “shutdown” twice, and both mentions came on the day Trump announced an agreement to reopen the federal government for three weeks.

Like the Spin Factor, President Trump’s Twitter activity last week focused on the fight over funding for a wall at the southern border. One of his most-popular tweets stated, “Build the Wall and Crime Will Fall.” In fact, “wall” and “crime” were the top two most-used terms by the president on Twitter last week.

Interestingly, Trump was nearly silent on Twitter about the 35-day partial government shutdown, which was caused by an impasse over the border wall funding.

The president only mentioned the word “shutdown” twice on Twitter, both of which came on Friday as Trump announced an agreement to reopen the federal government for three weeks as border security negotiations continue. In comparison, the president mentioned the word “wall” 13 times last week.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on whether Trump’s Twitter strategy changes ahead of the new Feb. 15 government funding deadline.

Watercooler

Harris Takes the Lead … On Twitter

Sen. Kamala Harris had the top three tweets last week among confirmed Democratic 2020 presidential candidates. In fact, her announcement that she’s making a White House run had about 3.5 times as many retweets as the next highest confirmed candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) had the top three most-popular tweets last week among the confirmed Democratic 2020 presidential candidates. The top tweet from the group was Harris’ announcement that she was officially throwing her hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination. That tweet had 40,000 more retweets than the group’s next most-popular tweet (also from Harris).

Of the eight confirmed Democrats making a White House run, Harris’ announcement on Twitter received by far the most engagement.

Harris’ next-closest rivals received just a fraction of Harris’ engagement, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) announcement receiving 17,504 retweets, Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., receiving 5,723 retweets and Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) nabbing 4,162 retweets.

Only time will tell if Harris’ lead on Twitter will translate to the polls.

Tweeter in Chief

The Wall is Coming. According to Trump.

President Trump continues to use Twitter to push for a border wall, but he’s been relatively quiet on the government shutdown. The president had more than three times as many tweets that mentioned “wall” or “border” than he did that mentioned the “shutdown.”

Over the past week, President Donald Trump continued to use his massive Twitter following to try to build support for funding construction of a border wall. About 25% of the president’s 74 tweets last week mentioned “wall” or “border.” In fact, three of his five most-used words on Twitter were “wall,” “border,” and “security.”

The president’s Twitter followers seem to be backing him. His most-popular tweet of the week, which garnered more than 67,000 retweets, was a Game of Thrones-themed graphic, with the text, “The Wall Is Coming.”

But perhaps more surprising is how little, comparatively, the president discussed the government shutdown. Today marks the 17th day of the government being partially shutdown because Trump and Democratic leaders remain at odds over funding for the wall. However, the president has only mentioned the shutdown five times in the last week.

The Spin Factor

New Congress, Who Dis?

The freshman class of the 116th Congress is coming out strong on Twitter. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) were responsible for Congress’ five most-popular tweets this week. In fact, Ocasio-Cortez’s top tweet had more than twice as many retweets as President Trump’s most-popular tweet.

The 116th Congress convened last week, with a new freshmen class and plenty of tweets. All five of the most-popular tweets this week were penned by freshmen Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)

Ocasio-Cortez was responsible for four of the five top tweets, which focused heavily on rebutting the GOP. Her top tweet had 158,415 retweets, more than twice as many retweets as President Trump’s most-popular tweet of the week, which nabbed 67,641 retweets.

Another indication that the freshman class was among the most active on Twitter this week? Topics like being “sworn in” topped issues like the government shutdown and funding for a border wall.

All the President's Friends

New Year, Same Allegiance

Even in a new year consumed by the government shutdown and other political woes, Trump’s “friends” remain steadfastly loyal to the president. Trump is by far their top focus on Twitter, followed by criticism of Democrats and support for a border wall.

The select 45 accounts that President Trump follows on Twitter continue to be his biggest allies in 2019. Their top three most-tweeted words in the past week were Trump’s Twitter handle “@realdonaldtrump,” “Trump” and “president.”

The group’s top tweets discussed job creation and the stock market, the government’s ability to function during the partial shutdown, and Trump’s work to help the Coast Guard during the shutdown.

All the President’s Friends also used the social media platform to take aim at the president’s critics, as their fourth most-used word was “Democrats.” Meanwhile, “border” and “wall” were their sixth and eighth most-used words, respectively, which highlights the group’s efforts to drum up support for Trump’s pet issue.

The Spin Factor

Shifting From Politics to Policy

Congress found common ground this week, as members on both sides of the aisle used Twitter to focus on legislative issues. But a closer look reveals that the party divide is still alive and well.

As the 115th Session of Congress nears an end, lawmakers appear to have a renewed focus on their jobs. Over the last few months, we’ve seen The Spin Factor use Twitter to activate their bases and discuss news of the day. But this week, we saw a clear shift from politics to policy.

The top 20 words used by congressional lawmakers over the last week include “bill,” “health,” “act,” “farmbill,” “support,” “bipartisan,” and “passed”, as well as words like “Trump,” “House,” “Senate” and “Congress.”

But despite a common legislative focus among Democrats and Republicans, drilling down further into the top terms shows that the party divide is still alive and well.

Republicans were focused on the Farm Bill (HR 2), which was approved by Congress last week and is headed to the President for his signature. Republicans in Congress tweeted about the Farm Bill 377 times, compared with 223 tweets from Democrats.

Meanwhile, congressional Democrats used Twitter to focus on health care and renew their vows to protect Obamacare. Democrats’ tweets over the last week included 475 “health” mentions, compared with just 60 from Republicans.