Mapping the Political Twitterverse : Finding Connections Between Political Elites
Shah, Dhavan V.
Twitter provides a new and important tool for political actors, and is increasingly being used as such. In the 2010 midterm elections, the vast majority of candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives and virtually all candidates for U.S. Senate and governorships used Twitter to reach out to potential supporters, direct them to particular pieces of information, request campaign contributions, and mobilize their political action. Despite the level of activity, we have little understanding of what the political Twitterverse looks like in terms of communication and discourse. This project seeks to remedy that lack of understanding by mapping candidates for federal office in 2010 and their followers, according to their use of the 4016 most used hashtags (keywords). Our data set is uniquely constructed from tweets of most of the candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, all the candidates for the Senate and governorships, and a random sample of their followers. From this we utilize multidimensional scaling to construct a visual map based on hashtag usage. We find that our data have both local and global interpretations that reflect not only political leaning but also strategies of communication. This study provides insight into innovation in new media usage in political behavior, as well as a snapshot of the political twitterverse in 2010.
Paper presented at the Fifth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, July 2011, Barcelona Spain.
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