It seems like everyone and their mother is tweeting these days, and that includes a big group on Capitol Hill. Members of Congress are finding power in those 140 characters to communicate directly with constituents and get out their message.
There are 474 out of 535 Congressional legislators active on Twitter. The Republican Party dominates with 261 tweeting members while Democrats trail with 211 members. There are also two tweeting Independents.
Not only do Republicans have more tweeters, but they are also more twitter-active. The 10 most active Congressional tweeters are all Republicans. Darrell Issa tops the list with 10,808 tweets, followed by House Speaker John Boehner with 8,698 tweets.
Sen. John McCain has the most followers by far with 1,732,834 followers with Boehner at a distant second with 310,133 followers. The list only shows three Democrats gracing the Top 10: Sen. Claire McCaskill, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and former Rep. Gabby Giffords, all with around 50,000 followers each.
TweetCongress, a website that tracks their activity, has organized a state-by-state breakdown of Democrats and Republicans who have embraced the social network.Though the site brings light to the congressional members who are tweeting, that wasn't entirely its intention when the site was founded. The site initially aimed to emphasize the amount of members on the Hill who aren't tweeting however, the objective of TweetCongress has changed quite drastically since its launch in 2008.
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Chris McCroskey, founder of TweetCongress, told ABC News, "The goal changed since 2008. When the site launched there were only 22 members of Congress using any kind of social media. The numbers then were very small."
McCroskey explains the appeal of using Twitter to have your voice heard by your representative. "You know how hard it is to get on the phone with a politician. Chances of getting a twitter reply from a politician are much higher, Rep. Claire McCaskill for example (D-Mo.) tweets back to people all the time."
McCroskey's theory is that, "The 2008 election was a wake-up call for Republican. They … saw how well the Obama campaign used social media. Republicans began using it as a new camping platform to engage in." "From 2008-2010, Republican Twitter usage crushed Twitter usage of Democrats 3 to 1," McCroskey says.
American politicians are not the only ones who have caught onto the political Twitter craze. After the launch of TweetCongress, a similar website was launched in 12 international cities. Now there is TweetMinster for the parliament members of Great Britain, TweetMP in Australia and other social media sites intended to capture political twitter coverage abroad. With the increase of political transparency through social networking, it seems as if Twitter has taken over the world.