Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Which Lawmaker (and Political Party) Leaves the Biggest Twitter Footprint in Minnesota Politics?

Bookmark and Share

Last month Smart Politics conducted a case study as to how one Minnesota lawmaker, Republican Representative Laura Brod, utilized the social networking site Twitter during the last legislative session. That study found the plurality of Rep. Brod's tweets were about substantive policy issues, with approximately one-sixth about her own personal life.

In the second part of this series about the use of Twitter by political officeholders, Smart Politics attempts to quantify the extent to which Minnesota lawmakers are using Twitter as a means to exert some political influence or garner some cache among the electorate.

Who is leaving the biggest Twitter footprint on state politics? And which political party is tweeting the most?

Twitter, to be sure, is only in its infancy as both a social networking site, but also a political tool. While half of Minnesota's U.S. House delegation uses Twitter (or congressional staff in the Representative's name) - Erik Paulsen, Keith Ellison, Michele Bachmann, and Jim Oberstar - the percentage is much less among Minnesota's state legislators.

Among state senators, Smart Politics was able to confirm the existence of just six Twitter accounts, or 9 percent of the 67-member body, with five of these accounts being actively used ('active use' is defined here very broadly, constituting at least one tweet during 2009).

Meanwhile, in the lower chamber, almost twice as many state representatives use Twitter: 17 percent, or 23 of 134 representatives.

But both state senators and representatives are using Twitter at a much greater rate than the public generally. According to an April 2009 Harris Poll, just 5 percent of Americans use Twitter.

Smart Politics also found some surprising numbers upon examining Twitter use among Minnesota lawmakers by political party.

Nationwide, Democrats have historically been seen as the political party most effectively using new technologies on the Internet - crystallized by the remarkable campaign fundraising of 2004 Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean and the mobilization of support via online networks during Barack Obama's 2008 victorious presidential campaign.

In Minnesota, however, Democrats do not hold such an advantage in the land of Twitter. Despite having fewer members in each delegation, Republican lawmakers line up an equal number of Twitter users as DFLers in the U.S. House (2 each) and State Senate (3 each). In the State House, 17 percent of both the GOP (8 of 47) and DFL (15 of 87) caucuses have active Twitter accounts.

Additionally, there are more followers to these 13 Republican state and federal lawmakers (13,742) than those following the 20 DFLers (10,646), although Michele Bachmann accounts for more than half of the GOP tally with her 7,900+ followers.

Still, even after taking U.S. Representatives out of the equation, state Republican lawmakers average more followers to their Twitter accounts (325), than do DFLers (318).

Among those six Senators who have Twitter accounts, four are currently campaigning for a higher office: DFL Senator John Marty and Republican Senators Mike Jungbauer and David Hann are running for governor, while DFL Senator Tarryl Clark is running for Michele Bachmann's 6th Congressional District seat.

The only other senators with Twitter accounts are DFLer Scott Dibble and Republican Minority Leader Dave Senjem. Senjem's account, however, seems to be just a placeholder, as he has zero tweets to his name to date.

Thus, of the five senators who actively use Twitter, four are running for higher office. This selective use of Twitter by state senators suggests they deem Twitter to be a valuable tool in their efforts to expand support beyond their current districts to the larger electorate they must court in 2010.

However, as Twitter is in its infancy, and its strategic effects have not been rigorously studied, it is also possible that high profile candidates simply do not want to seem 'out of touch,' or potentially missing out on a marketing opportunity with an unknown payoff as they endeavor to expand their base of support in their 2010 campaigns.

And which Minnesota legislators have the most Twitter followers?

· Among the U.S. House delegation, Republican Michele Bachmann leads the way with over 7,900 followers, followed by Keith Ellison (3,455), Erik Paulsen (2,308), and Jim Oberstar (1,466). (Minnesota's other recently-elected Representative, Tim Walz, utilizes Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, and YouTube, but not Twitter).

· In the Minnesota Senate, Tarryl Clark is on top with 716, followed by John Marty (608), David Hann (215), Scott Dibble (55), and Mike Jungbauer (52). (Minority Leader Senjem has 14 followers, even though he is tweetless).

· Of the 23 Minnesota House members who Twitter, the most followed Representatives are two of the biggest names in the chamber: DFL Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Kelliher leads with 919 followers, while former Republican Minority Leader (and 2010 gubernatorial hopeful) Marty Seifert is in second with 654. Rep. Laura Brod is third at 644, with DFL gubernatorial candidate Paul Thissen fifth (453), DFL Majority Leader Tony Sertich sixth (449), and new GOP Minority Leader Kurt Zellers eighth (355).

But are these state lawmakers really using Twitter?

A Smart Politics analysis suggests that many members of the House are indeed putting the social networking site to use. But the senators? Not so much.

The six senators with Twitter accounts have only generated 108 tweets to date, or an average of 18 per senator. Tarryl Clark has the most with 39.

Meanwhile, the average number of tweets on the House side is nearly six times that amount, at 104 per member. (Note: data was calculated for the 21 members of the House whose updates are made available to the public; the updates for DFL Rep. Nora Slawik and GOP Rep. Steve Gottwalt are 'protected').

Rep. Laura Brod, the subject of Smart Politics' analysis last month, remains the Twitter Queen among Minnesota lawmakers, leading all state (and federal) lawmakers with 351 tweets since joining Twitter on March 21st of this year.

Brod is followed by DFLer John Lesch (238), and Republicans Paul Kohls (234) and Marty Seifert (188).

Overall, Republican lawmakers are tweeting much more than their DFL counterparts. Across Minnesota state and federal lawmakers, Republicans have issued an average of 113.4 tweets per user, compared to an average of just 77.8 for the DFL.

Number of Tweets by Minnesota Lawmakers

Lawmaker
District
Party
Tweets
Laura Brod
HD 25A
GOP
351
John Lesch
HD 66A
DFL
238
Paul Kohls
HD 34A
GOP
234
Marty Seifert
HD 21A
GOP
188
Michele Bachmann
CD 6
GOP
185
Erik Paulsen
CD 3
GOP
178
Jeremy Kalin
HD 17B
DFL
173
Tina Liebling
HD 30A
DFL
144
Margaret A. Kelliher
HD 60A
DFL
116
Keith Ellison
CD 5
DFL
97
Matt Dean
HD 52B
GOP
93
Paul Thissen
HD 63A
DFL
91
Larry Hosch
HD 14B
DFL
89
Jim Oberstar
CD 8
DFL
86
Tony Sertich
HD 05B
DFL
82
Al Juhnke
HD 13B
DFL
67
Marsha Swails
HD 56B
DFL
63
Jeff Hayden
HD 61B
DFL
57
Karla Bigham
HD 57A
DFL
54
Terry Morrow
HD 23A
DFL
51
Tarryl Clark
SD 15
DFL
39
Pat Garofalo
HD 36B
GOP
31
Keith Downey
HD 41A
GOP
31
Michael Jungbauer
SD 48
GOP
28
Kurt Zellers
HD 32B
GOP
22
David Hann
SD 42
GOP
20
John Marty
SD 54
DFL
20
Erin Murphy
HD 64A
DFL
9
Scott Dibble
SD 60
DFL
1
Michael Paymar
HD 64B
DFL
1
Dave Senjem
SD 29
GOP
0
Steve Gottwalt
HD 15A
GOP
N/A
Nora Slawik
HD 55B
DFL
N/A
Total
 
 
2,839
Note: Through August 26, 2009. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

The extent to which officeholders are using Twitter beyond getting their own message out to the public via tweets is unknowable.

For example, are lawmakers using Twitter to receive information as well?

One rough gauge to measure this officeholder interest in other Twitter user updates is to examine the number of people these lawmakers are following in their own right.

The shorthand calculus for this, however, may seem counterintuitive at first blush, for, in actuality, the more individuals one follows, the less less likely updates are being closely monitored by the follower.

For example, Michele Bachmann 'follows' nearly 7,400 people on her official Twitter page. To put that in perspective, Smart Politics follows only 26 individuals on Twitter, and received 196 updates from those 26 individuals during the last 24 hours.

By following 284 times that number of individuals, how likely is it that Rep. Bachmann (or her staff) sifted through any of the estimated 55,000+ updates that cross her Twitter account each day?

But not all lawmakers follow that pattern, as evidenced by Smart Politics' calculation of each Twitter users' following-to-follower ratio:

· U.S. Representative Keith Ellison leads the way with an 88.6 to 1 ratio (3,455 followers, while following only 39).

· Seven other lawmakers likewise have ratios greater than 10 to 1, including Jim Oberstar, at 30.5 to 1). Republican Rep. Pat Garofalo has the highest ratio at the State Capitol - following just 12 individuals, but being courted by 276 followers, for a 23:1 ratio.

· Six lawmakers, including Republican gubernatorial hopeful David Hann, are following more individuals than the number of individuals following them.

Ratio of Twitter Followers vs. Twitter Following Among Minnesota Lawmakers

Lawmaker
District
Party
Followers
Following
Ratio
Keith Ellison
CD 5
DFL
3,455
39
88.59
Jim Oberstar
CD 8
DFL
1,466
48
30.54
Pat Garofalo
HD 36B
GOP
276
12
23.00
Marty Seifert
HD 21A
GOP
654
29
22.55
Scott Dibble
SD 60
DFL
55
3
18.33
Terry Morrow
HD 23A
DFL
220
13
16.92
Paul Kohls
HD 34A
GOP
495
30
16.50
Margaret A. Kelliher
HD 60A
DFL
919
84
10.94
Laura Brod
HD 25A
GOP
644
70
9.20
Paul Thissen
HD 63A
DFL
453
66
6.86
Tina Liebling
HD 30A
DFL
215
33
6.52
Keith Downey
HD 41A
GOP
196
34
5.76
Tony Sertich
HD 05B
DFL
449
84
5.35
John Marty
SD 54
DFL
608
151
4.03
Marsha Swails
HD 56B
DFL
244
71
3.44
Matt Dean
HD 52B
GOP
268
83
3.23
Larry Hosch
HD 14B
DFL
280
89
3.15
Steve Gottwalt
HD 15A
GOP
84
29
2.90
John Lesch
HD 66A
DFL
428
171
2.50
Karla Bigham
HD 57A
DFL
240
99
2.42
Kurt Zellers
HD 32B
GOP
355
155
2.29
Michael Jungbauer
SD 48
GOP
52
34
1.53
Jeff Hayden
HD 61B
DFL
188
163
1.15
Erik Paulsen
CD 3
GOP
2,308
2,039
1.13
Michele Bachmann
CD 6
GOP
7,911
7,373
1.07
Tarryl Clark
SD 15
DFL
714
698
1.02
Jeremy Kalin
HD 17B
DFL
188
195
0.96
David Hann
SD 42
GOP
215
225
0.96
Al Juhnke
HD 13B
DFL
124
154
0.81
Nora Slawik
HD 55B
DFL
51
64
0.80
Erin Murphy
HD 64A
DFL
332
562
0.59
Michael Paymar
HD 64B
DFL
17
39
0.44
Dave Senjem
SD 29
GOP
14
0
 
Note: Through August 26, 2009. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

But for those lawmakers that are following a more 'manageable' amount of individuals, some interesting tidbits arise.

For example, one of the Republican gubernatorial frontrunners, Marty Seifert, is following several of his Republican and DFL rivals among the scant 29 individuals he is following, including Pat Anderson, David Hann, Michael Jungbauer, Matt Entenza, Mark Dayton, and Margaret Anderson Kelliher. Perhaps Rep. Seiftert is using Twitter as a timely (and inexpensive) way to keep tabs on his competition?

And then there is House Majority Leader Tony Sertich. A quick glance through the individuals Sertich follows on Twitter clearly reveals his love for basketball - with Shaquille O'Neal, Steve Nash, Kevin Love, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, and NBA analyst Ric Bucher among the 84 individuals he is following.

Interesting, perhaps, but not as interesting as the fact that among the 84 individuals Sertich follows is cult filmmaker David Lynch! Who knew one of Minnesota's leading lawmakers had such an avant-garde streak?

Overall, Republicans seem to be standing toe-to-toe with the DFL in the Twitter universe and then some:

· A greater percentage of Republican lawmakers are on Twitter.
· Republicans are sending out more tweets on average than DFLers.
· Republicans also have a higher average number of followers on Twitter among both the state and federal lawmaking delegations.

Whether or not the road to majority party status in 2010 for the GOP is paved with tweets remains to be seen.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Minnesota Has 3rd Lowest Increase in Unemployment Nationwide Since Enactment of Federal Stimulus Bill
Next post: What Are the Odds of a GOP Takeover of the Minnesota House in 2010?

4 Comments


  • Tim Sanders (51A) also uses twitter, but you did not put him on your list.

  • Michael Brodkorb and a lot of the GOP staff use twitter to stay in touch-- it's a great tool in politics. Although the Dems are seen as "hip and cool"- I predict that Republicans will better use this technology because of our focus on individual liberty and free-thinking. We don't need to check with other people- or our leadership- in order to put something "out there." The Democrats are truly the top-down party...and Republicans will continue to move away from that. It may be a bit chaotic (for a while) but eventually we'll come out stronger because of these types of communication tools. It lets us communicate free of media filters and bias. Thank God for technology.

  • > Tim Sanders (51A) also uses twitter, but you did not put him
    > on your list.

    Do you have the address for Rep. Sanders? (As I have not been able to locate it).

  • Shiela Kihne posted: "The Democrats are truly the top-down party...and Republicans will continue to move away from that."

    ROFLMAO!!!

    Yeah, "right." Just ask the Override Six......

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

    Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

    Political Crumbs

    Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

    Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


    An Idaho Six Pack

    Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


    more POLITICAL CRUMBS

    Humphrey School Sites
    CSPG
    Humphrey New Media Hub

    Issues />

<div id=
    Abortion
    Afghanistan
    Budget and taxes
    Campaign finances
    Crime and punishment
    Economy and jobs
    Education
    Energy
    Environment
    Foreign affairs
    Gender
    Health
    Housing
    Ideology
    Immigration
    Iraq
    Media
    Military
    Partisanship
    Race and ethnicity
    Reapportionment
    Redistricting
    Religion
    Sexuality
    Sports
    Terrorism
    Third parties
    Transportation
    Voting