Senators Cory Booker and Tim Scott are the most responsive US Senators on Facebook and Twitter, according to a report that the Organizing Center released last week. The report features a detailed look at how elected officials are using social media channels, and was underwritten by the Phone2Action Civic Technology Fund, which creates a pipeline of minorities in technology and underwrites research and reporting to inform the civic tech industry. The Organizing Center created an index — called the Social Platform Responsiveness Index (or SPRI, for short) that charts how officials build and engage audiences over Twitter and Facebook.
“We wanted to get a much deeper understanding of how elected officials — from US Senators to San Francisco City Council — are using social media. Are they responding? How does their responsiveness change when their sears are highly competitive? These insights can help inform how constituents can directly communicate with their officials, helping increase civic engagement,” Mike Moschella, CEO of the Organizing Center, said.
The report, the first of its kind, was cited in the Wall Street Journal and plotted median social media usage across the US Senate and House, as well as plotting the SPRI against the Partisan Voting Index to examine how officials use social media when their seats are more, or less, competitive.
On a scale of 0 (lowest) to 2.0 (highest), the House of Representatives averaged 0.87 on the SPRI, with Democrats scoring 0.93 on average, and Republicans scoring 0.83.
In the Senate, the average score was 0.78, with Democrats averaging 0.84 and Republicans averaging 0.73.
The averages for San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors and Washington D.C.’s City Council were higher, with respective averages of 1.36 and 1.45.
There are many insights in the report — from measuring the relative sizes of caucuses following on Twitter and Facebook to looking at the SPRI plotted again the PVI (Partisan Voting Index), which has fascinating insights hinted at below (and available in full in the report)
The following insights bubbled up:
1) Almost half of the House of Representatives (207 members) will communicate with constituents directly through Facebook or Twitter!
2) The Democrats who represent the most conservative districts scored the lowest in social media responsiveness. This should be a major concern for Democrats. Republicans who represent the most left-leaning districts fared better.
3) A clear group of GOP Senators who are at-risk of being primary challenged from the right scored very low.
4) Overall, Democrats outperformed Republicans in constituent responsiveness via social media. In particular, members of the Congressional Black Caucus led the way.
5) Compared to Congress, the DC City Council and the SF Board of Supervisors (our local test cases) were significantly more responsive to constituents on social media, but have much smaller audiences.
6) Age made no difference. Social media spans all ages.
7) Urban districts aren’t significantly more social-savvy than rural districts. In fact, some rural districts score in the top cohort because social media makes it much easier to communicate across distance.
To read the full report, click here.
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