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Tweets from the Hill: Cory Booker tweeted 80 dog and cat pictures this week

(Photo via Flickr user RJ Schmidt / used under a Creative Commons license)

After tallying up the tweet, follower and following counts on Twitter for every member of the House and Senate last week, I thought it might be interesting to see what Congress has been up to on the social network in the seven days since. Read below for a rundown on what I found, or skip directly to the detailed data tables.

The week in follower counts

followers gained

In pure raw number terms, Republicans gained more followers on average than Democrats. But this is largely a function of their overall follower counts being greater: More followers equals more people spreading your message, which equals more new followers coming on board. Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Ted Cruz (Tex.) led the pack with 2,000-plus new followers each, followed by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida with 1,600 new followers.

But the percentages tell a different story. Democrats saw more gains relative to their follower count than Republicans did. Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware led the pack with a robust 6.7 percent follower gain for the week, more than twice the second-highest gainer, Democratic Sen. John Walsh of Montana, with 3.1 percent. Both senators face reelection this year -- Coons' seat is fairly safe, while Walsh is facing a tough election fight after being appointed to replace Max Baucus in February. Overall in the House and Senate, only two of the top 10 gainers were Republican.

followers pct

It's also worth noting that 30 members of Congress actually lost followers this week. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) leads in that distinction, with a net follower loss of 22, although that's just a tiny drop in the ocean of his 1.5 million followers. Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) is another notable entry in the loss category, with a net loss of three followers. His Twitter account has been silent since April 3, shortly before news of smoochgate broke, so this is not exactly surprising.

The week in following counts

number followed

Earlier this week I noted that Democrats tended to follow fewer Twitter users than Republicans. But since then, Democrats have been following Twitter users at a much higher rate than GOP members. House and Senate Democrats followed an average of 4.5 and 9.3 users respectively, compared with 2.8 and 1.8 on the Republicans side. Leading that pack was Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who went on a following binge of 261 new users.

By contrast, 42 senators and representatives decided to trim down their following counts, led by Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), who unfollowed 29 people.

The week in tweets

Congress added 5,162 tweets to the record this past week. Cory Booker was singly responsible for 301 of those, or 5.8 percent of the total Congressional tweet volume. A look at the senator's Twitter stream shows that he's constantly interacting with his followers -- retweeting them, replying to their Tweets and thanking them individually for their support. Most notably, Booker spent most of Tuesday night retweeting photos of his followers' adopted and rescued pets -- more than 80 of them.

number of tweets

Overall, Democrats out-tweeted Republicans this week in both the House and the Senate. A total of 57 Congress members -- mostly Republicans -- didn't tweet at all.

Are your representatives doing anything crazy/awesome/hilarious/horrifying on social media? Let me know!

Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.



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