The Spin Factor

Twitter’s Partisan Divide

Last week on Twitter, even Congress’ hashtags were partisan. Seven out of Congress’ top eight hashtags were used primarily, if not exclusively, by Democrats—including #fathersday.

Last week, Congress’ most-used hashtag was #renew911vcf. The call for a bill permanently renewing the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund was tweeted 254 times—244 of which were by Democrats. Three other top hashtags were used exclusively by Democrats: #forthepeople, #netneutrality, and #healthcareweekend.

Meanwhile, the most-used hashtag by Republicans was #flagday, with 60% of uses coming from the right.

It’s worth noting that congressional Democrats use hashtags more frequently than Republicans—but their differences of opinion remain clear.

Tweeter in Chief

Saturdays Are for the Tweets

President Trump’s weekday Twitter volume was pretty consistent last week, but the president had a big spike in activity on Saturday when he tweeted more than three times the amount he did on Friday.

Last week, President Trump’s Twitter volume was pretty consistent during the weekdays. From Monday to Thursday, the president tweeted between 18 and 20 times each day, dipping slightly to 12 tweets on Friday.

But on Saturday, Trump had one of his patented Twitter flurries, tweeting 44 times – nearly 30 percent of his total tweet count for the week (149 total tweets).

Trump’s Twitter activity on Saturday included attacks on the news media, criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and hyping his 2020 campaign.

Trump’s followers seemed to respond to the spike in Twitter activity. His weekday tweets received an average of 16,562 retweets, while his Saturday tweets nabbed an average of 17,450 retweets.

Tweeter in Chief

Quit Till You’re Ahead: Trump’s Mueller Strategy

President Trump didn’t mention Special Counsel Robert Mueller by name on Twitter for more than six months after his May 2017 appointment. But as the investigation progressed, Trump began to talk about the special counsel with increasing frequency.

The Mueller investigation has unfolded with several twists and turns over the last two years, providing many opportunities for the president to weigh in. But for the most part, President Trump seemed to hold his Twitter fire until he was assured of the results.

From May 2017, when Special Counselor Robert Mueller was appointed, to the end of 2017, Trump only mentioned him once, and that was in a retweet. During that time, Mueller expanded his investigation to include obstruction of justice and Trump’s campaign manager and business partner were indicted for making false statements.

But it wasn’t until April of this year that Trump’s mentions of Mueller by name really ramped up—after the report was released to Attorney General William Barr and the results were made public.

Trump mentioned Mueller more times in April and May (90 tweets) than the 22 months prior (87 total tweets from May 2017 to March 2019).

Seems like Trump waited until he had a winning hand before fully diving in.

The Spin Factor

Cruzing to Bipartisanship

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ted Cruz found common ground on Twitter about banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists. Spoiler alert: The Twitterverse loved it.

A rare moment in Spin Factor Twitter unity occurred on May 30: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) agreed on something. First, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists, to which Cruz replied with his agreement. Then, to top off the interaction, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “Let’s make a deal.”

So, how did the Twitterverse respond to these new strange bedfellows? Over the last week, Ocasio-Cortez’s four tweets with a Cruz mention received an average of 10,969 retweets—more than double her average retweet rate for tweets (69 total) without a Cruz mention. Meanwhile, Cruz’s tweets with an Ocasio-Cortez mention (seven total) received an average of 1,557 retweets—nearly double his average retweet rate for tweets (83 total) without an Ocasio-Cortez mention.

The takeaway? Bipartisanship boosts engagement.

All the President's Friends

A Friendship is Born

After recently being followed by President Trump on Twitter, Rep. Jim Jordan jumped to the top of the class in social media engagement.

And then there were 47. On May 22, bot tracking Trump Twitter account, @TrumpsAlert, flagged that the Tweeter in Chief began following Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a rare addition to the exclusive group of accounts followed by the president.

It appears the president has been keeping tabs on Jordan ahead of his formal follow, as Trump has retweeted the representative 18 times since Feb. 9.

So how does Jordan stack up? Last week, he easily surpassed the other 46 accounts Trump follows in terms of social media engagement. Jordan’s tweets had an average of 9,118 retweets and 32,384 favorites. Trump’s sons nabbed the second and third spot.

Will the president’s newest follow continue to Trump everyone else? We’ll be watching.


The Spin Factor

Amashing Twitter Engagement

Michigan GOP Congress member Justin Amash saw his Twitter engagement jump by 6,652%, thanks to a 14-tweet thread where he became the first Republican lawmaker to call President Trump’s actions impeachable.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who doesn’t typically make an appearance among the top congressional tweeters, saw a significant jump in Twitter engagement last week, topping all of Congress.

Amash averages 929 favorites and 254 retweets per tweet, but last week his tweets saw an average of 63,813 favorites and 16,066 retweets.

That jump in engagement came after he became the first Republican lawmaker to call President Trump’s actions impeachable. In a 14-tweet thread discussing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Amash said that Attorney General William Barr “misrepresented” the report and that Trump has “engaged in impeachable conduct.”


Trump Trumps Challengers on RTs

President Trump received a staggering number of retweets, compared to his 2020 challengers, showing his base’s unwavering support.

Confirmed 2020 presidential candidates may be sucking up plenty of media oxygen, but they’re lagging behind Trump when it comes to Twitter.

Last week, President Trump received an average of more than 18,500 retweets per tweet, while the second-most retweeted challenger, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D), only received an average of 3,610 retweets. That means Trump’s average retweets were more than five times higher than any of his competitors, showing how engaged Trump’s supporter base is.

However, it’s worth noting that Trump has 57 times as many followers as Buttigieg, meaning that the mayor’s average retweet-to-follower ratio was 10 times higher than Trump’s.

Will these Twitter follower and retweet numbers matter at the ballot box? Only time will tell.

The Fourth Branch

Eyes on the White House and GoT

Not surprisingly, Trump and White House were among the most-used language by Washington, D.C., journalists and pundits last week. But their top hashtag may come as a surprise.

Washington, D.C. journalists and pundits were once again focused on President Trump last week. Their top word pairing was “White House” with 209 mentions, and the group had 1,044 mentions of “Trump”.

But their social media activity went beyond Washington, D.C., last week. Journalists’ top hashtag was #GameOfThrones (used 14 times), likely driven by Sunday night’s series finale of Game of Thrones.

Since the fight for the Iron Throne is over, we’ll be watching to see whether reporters’ social media attention is redistributed to Trump, Congress or the 2020 presidential candidates.


Who Raised the Barr?

All eyes were on U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s Senate hearing last week, but President Trump’s 2020 challengers’ focus on Barr varied widely on Twitter. Sen. Kamala Harris mentioned him 16 times on Twitter, while others like former Vice President Joe Biden did not mention Barr at all.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr has been at the center of the Mueller report aftermath due to controversy over the way he has handled its release.

Some of the 2020 presidential candidates’ Twitter feeds were focused on Barr and the Mueller investigation, perhaps highlighting a campaign strategy going forward. But other candidates were tight-lipped on the topic.

Two Democratic candidates from California—Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Eric Swalwell—tweeted the most about Barr, with 16 and 15 mentions, respectively. But five of the 22 confirmed candidates—including former technology executive Andrew Yang and former Vice President Joe Biden—did not mention Barr at all.

The Spin Factor

Top Tweet Topics = Top of Docket?

A look at the social media attention lawmakers are giving to key issues could provide insight into what may get done this congressional session. Spoiler alert: Health care tops the list.

Congress – like much of Washington—has been very focused over the last couple of months on President Trump, the Mueller Report and, most recently, U.S. Attorney General William Barr. However, taking a step back to look at the social media attention lawmakers are giving to key policy issues, rather than politics, could foreshadow upcoming legislative priorities.

Health care received far and away the most issue attention from Congress, with 936 mentions on Twitter over the last week. Meanwhile, jobs and the economy (761 mentions) and climate (642 mentions) came in second and third respectively.

Members of Congress had only 110 Twitter mentions related to immigration over the last week, perhaps indicating a downgrade in priority.