Social media domination: Republicans rule Twitter

Among congressmen, Republicans far outnumber Democrats on social media site Twitter, according to a recent study.

Lou Wee/SIPA/Newscom
More Republicans use the social media site, Twitter, than do Democrats.

Yes, Democrats own the White House and control Congress. But Republicans reign over social media by ruling Washington’s Twitterverse!

OK, “rule” may be an exaggeration, in that Twitter – the Web-based social network site that allows users to send and read short messages – is a vast network that can’t be controlled, any more than can Newt Gingrich. Read his comments at a recent Monitor breakfast here.

But more GOP than Democratic lawmakers use Twitter to communicate with constituents and the news media, according to a new Congressional Research Service study [PDF]. Substantially more.

Sixty percent of the senators and representatives registered with Twitter are Republican, CRS found. That figure seems even more impressive when you remember that there are fewer of them to begin with.

It’s the House that’s the Twitter GOP hotbed. Fully half of the Capitol Hill Twitterverse is composed of House Republicans. Obviously they’ve got some organized Twitter strategy going on in the GOP caucus.

Is it only Decoder that finds this counterintuitive? It’s Democrats who are the party of young people (who text a lot), and Change, with a capital “C,” and MoveOn, and Web-based fundraising, and so forth.

Meanwhile, it’s conservatives who “stand athwart history, yelling ‘Stop!’,” to paraphrase William F. Buckley.

Guess we’ll have to change that to “tweeting ‘Stop!'”

The world’s turned upside down. It’s as if Democrats won a tailoring contest, or the Washington Nationals were good.

(This CRS report, which isn’t supposed to be public, first got posted on Steven Aftergood’s fabulous “Secrecy News” blog. Where else can you read about both the Navy’s marine mammal program and the search for alien buildings on other planets?)

As to the actual number of tweets sent, Republicans lead there, too. When the House is in session, GOP representatives as a whole send out an average of 131 tweets per day.

Democrats as whole? Forty-eight tweets per day.

What are they tweeting about? During sessions, the largest category is policy statements, as in, “White House: Cap and trade could cost families $1,761 a year”

Other big categories are official actions, in which members notify Twitter followers of their actual votes, and media and public relations, as in, “On Fox & Friends now talking about health care!”

To be fair, Twitter usage in Congress is still in its infancy, compared with, say, Twitter usage in an average US middle school. Only about 38 percent of all senators and representatives are registered to use the service.

But it is likely to grow rapidly. As the CRS study points out, prior to 1995, nobody in Congress used e-mail. Now hundreds of millions of e-mail messages flow in and out congressional offices every year.

Congressional use of traditional franked postal mail has dropped by 50 percent in that same time period.

“Many Members now use email, official websites, blogs, YouTube channels, and Facebook pages to communicate with their constituents – technologies that were either non-existent or not widely available 15 years ago,” notes the CRS report.

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