Almost all of Congress is now on Twitter or Facebook, but the parties differ in how much they use social media
Image credit: Congressional Research Service
We all know that Republicans and Democrats don’t agree on much these days, but one thing they do seem to be on the same page about is the use of social media. According to new data from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) the vast majority of congressional members from both parties are using Twitter and Facebook. However, the numbers also show that Republicans have taken to it with a little more gusto than Democrats - and, based on my own observations, they do it with a little more attitude, too.
The CRS looked at usage of Twitter and Facebook by all members of Congress between August and October of 2011, to assess how many members used either service, how often they used them and for what reasons. They found that in the House, 78.9% of members were on Twitter and 89.3% were on Facebook. In the Senate, 78% of members were on Twitter and 78% on Facebook.
Twitter adoption among congressional members is actually even higher now, based on more recent numbers that Twitter released earlier this year. As of January of this year, 100% of Senators and 90% of House members were on Twitter. Those numbers are up from 44% and 35%, respectively, just two years earlier.
The CRS report also looked at what kind of information congressional members were sharing on Twitter and Facebook. The single biggest use of social media was to take a stance on a policy or political issue, which comprised 41% of tweets and 39% of Facebook posts by all members of Congress. The next biggest use was to announce visits to or events in the member’s district or state (26% of tweets, 32% of Facebook posts).
Most interestingly, though, the CRS researchers broke down social media usage by party. In general, they found that Republicans are more active on it than Democrats. Specifically, the average number of tweets per day for congressional Republicans was 1.28, vs 1.18 for Democrats. The average number of Facebook postings per day showed a bigger split, with Republicans averaging .73 posts per day, vs. .49 for Democrats.