The Spin Factor

Republicans Stay Quiet on Trump’s National Emergency

While Democratic members of Congress took to Twitter to discuss Trump’s declaration of a national emergency, Republicans stayed noticeably quiet.

When analyzing the Spin Factor’s (a.k.a. Congress’) Twitter activity over the last week, a stark party divide emerged around President Trump’s national emergency.

Democrats tweeted the phrase “national emergency” 68 times last week, while Republicans used the phrase just six times. Similarly, Democrats tweeted “emergency” 208 times, while Republicans only tweeted the term 22 times.

The top tweet by retweet came from Rep. Danny Davis, who retweeted this post, arguing that the water problem in Flint, Mich., should be declared a national emergency, rather than a border wall.

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.

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.)

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.

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.

The Spin Factor

Post-Election Blues (and Reds)

With the midterm elections behind them, Republican members of Congress appeared to distance themselves from Trump. But they weren’t shy about using Twitter to honor late President George H.W. Bush.

As we’ve discussed in past issues of The Conversation, Democrats in Congress tweet about President Trump far more than their Republican counterparts. But with the midterm elections behind them, the partisan divide has increased even further. Democrats tweeted about Trump a whopping 7.8 times more than Republicans during this period, with 490 tweets vs. 63 tweets about Trump.

However, in light President George H.W. Bush’s death over the weekend, Republican lawmakers took to Twitter to voice their condolences and highlight his legacy. When looking at the percentage of each party’s tweets about Bush, 10 percent of all Republican Congress members’ tweets discussed Bush, compared to five percent of Democratic lawmakers’ tweets.

The Spin Factor

Dems Out-Tweet GOP on Midterm Elections … With One Exception

Over the last week, Democrats were tweeting significantly more than Republicans about the recent midterm elections. The one exception? Florida.

It’s been almost two weeks since the Nov. 6 midterm elections, but the process of tallying results and post-election analysis has continued. In fact, the Mississippi Senate race will go to a runoff election on Nov. 27.

Therefore, it may not be surprising that Congress members continue to discuss the election on Twitter, but we’re seeing some interesting party divides.

Democrats in Congress tweeted about the “election” 55 times, compared to Republicans’ 37 tweets. The difference was even more stark when looking at tweets that mentioned the word “vote” – 119 vs. 47.

But Republicans have been more vocal on Twitter about one specific state: Florida. GOP Congress members had 33 tweets on “Florida,” compared with Democrats’ 27 tweets.

With Democrats Sen. Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum both conceding their respective Florida races, we’ll be watching how the Spin Factor’s attention shifts towards Mississippi this month.

The Spin Factor

Midterms or Bust

The Pittsburgh shooting has shaken the nation, but lawmakers’ most-popular tweets this week are about the midterms.

Despite the recent news of the Pittsburgh shooting and pipe bombs, Congress is continuing to focus its Twitter conversation on next Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Of the five congressional tweets with the most retweets over the past week, three are related to the upcoming election. The top tweet, by a large margin, is from Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) encouraging people to go out and vote. The second most-popular tweet was from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) responding to President Trump’s Tweet saying that Republicans will protect Americans with pre-existing conditions and encouraging his followers to “vote Republican.” The fifth most-popular tweet was from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) discussing the midterm election ballot.

Only time will tell how voters respond on Tuesday, but for now, Congress is rallying for a Nov. 6 showdown.

The Spin Factor

The Blue Wave Hits High Tide …. on Twitter at Least

While we’re used to congressional Democrats and Republicans operating in two very different Twitter-verses, it’s still surprising that with the midterm elections just three weeks away, Democrats are tweeting about the elections and encouraging their followers to vote more than 2.5 times as often as Republicans

This week, congressional Democrats turned to Twitter with their “Get Out the Vote” messages. Nearly 160 tweets from Dems mentioned either “election” or “vote,” most of them encouraging their followers to head to the polls in November. Interestingly, Democrats tweeted about the midterms more than 2.5 times as often as Republicans.

While it often seems congressional Democrats and Republicans are operating in two very different

Twitter-verses, it’s surprising to see such tweet disparities when it comes to the upcoming elections.

Perhaps less surprising was Republicans’ near silence on the United Nations’ massive climate change report, which was released last Monday. Democrats in Congress had 122 tweets that mentioned the word “climate,” compared with only three tweets from Republicans.

Republicans instead focused their Twitter activity on Hurricane Michael, with twice as many tweets as Democrats, and calls to have Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testify before the Senate.

The Spin Factor

Kavanaugh Got Republicans’ Tongues

While last week’s Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh captured the attention of much of Washington, D.C. … and Twitter, congressional Republicans stayed relatively mum. In fact, they tweeted more about taxes than Kavanaugh or Ford.

It seems Congress is divided even when it comes to tweeting about congressional activity.

Last week’s Senate hearings on Brett Kavanagh’s Supreme Court nomination quickly became the focus of Washington, D.C., the media and even Saturday Night Live.

Congressional Democrats were outspoken on Twitter, mentioning Ford and Kavanaugh in 8.6% and 8.7% of their tweets respectively over the last week.

But Republicans were comparatively quiet, mentioning Ford and Kavanaugh in just 1.5% and 3.9% of their tweets respectively. Perhaps even more telling is that Republicans mentioned their bread-and-butter topic taxes more than either term, with 148 mentions, or 4.2% of all tweets.