Which Members of Congress Are On Twitter?

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Which members of Congress are on Twitter? A lot of them, it turns out. A new report (PDF) by the Congressional Research Service examines the use of Twitter by representatives and senators during August and September of 2009:

The data show that 205 Representatives and Senators are registered with Twitter (as of September 30, 2009) and issued a total of 7,078 “tweets” during the data collection period of August and September 2009. With approximately 38% of House Members and 39% of Senators registered with Twitter, Members sent an average of 116 tweets per day collectively.

Unsurprisingly, member use of Twitter mirrors that of regular people: many registered members don’t tweet at all, while a few members are responsible for a big chunk of the tweets. Half of the members of Congress on Twitter sent 20 or fewer tweets during August and September. But “16 Members sent more than 100 tweets,” according to the report. Members of the House tweet far more often than Senators, and House Republicans are far more active tweeters than House Democrats. (Senate Republicans tweet slightly more frequently than Senate Democrats.)

The most interesting part of the CRS report focuses on the content of members’ tweets. The authors of the study classified all the tweets they looked at into eight categories: position taking, policy statements, media or public relations, district or state, official or congressional action, personal, campaign, and other. Bottom line?

At this time, Twitter largely facilitates a one-way transmission of information from Members to the public. Members use Twitter to convey information about their official actions, press appearances, or policy positions. Given the limited data available thus far, a two-way exchange of information or policy dialogue appears less frequent.

That’s also unsurprising, but it’s too bad. It would be good for everyone if more Americans thought their representatives were hearing their concerns. Anyway, one more item. While the median representative had 1,297 followers, and the median senator had 3,536, one senator is the undisputed king of congressional twitterers: Sen. John McCain. He has over 1.7 million.

(h/t: Steven Aftergood)

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate