You should expect to hear plenty about these six freshman members of the House in the years to come: Reps. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), Steve Stockman (R-Tex.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).
That’s the takeaway from a new study by the University of Minnesota’s (the old alma mater!) Smart Politics team, which looked at the number of early media impressions from the Class of 2012.
The study is a good approximation for which freshmen will be a part of the political dialogue in the months and years ahead. In 2011, for instance, the most buzzworthy freshmen were Reps. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), Allen West (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Sean Duffy (R-Wis.).
Walsh and West wound up being the most outspoken members of the tea party caucus before their losses in 2012, Scott has already been appointed to the Senate, and Duffy figures to be a potential future statewide candidate in increasingly swingy Wisconsin.
As for the new class of freshmen, Duckworth and Gabbard should have significant voices on matters of foreign policy as the only two female members of Congress to serve in combat, and Gabbard is Congress’s first Hindu. Castro, meanwhile, is part of the fast-rising team of twin brothers that includes Democratic National Convention keynote speaker and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (D).
As for the Republicans, Stockman and Salmon have carved out niches as outspoken conservatives (Stockman has filed articles of impeachment against President Obama), and Cotton is viewed is the Arkansas GOP’s rising star.
The study counts the number of times each freshman has been mentioned by seven broadcast outlets: ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NBC and NPR. It says these six members have accounted for more than half (56 percent) of all the mentions of House freshmen.
The fact that these freshmen are already separating themselves from their colleagues suggests they are seeking out and/or are destined for the political limelight.