- Twitter; Samantha Lee/Business Insider
- Lawmakers are increasingly building up their personal brands on social media, including Twitter, in order to advance their policy goals and political ambitions.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the most-followed member of Congress by a large margin, boasting three million followers and counting.
- Several other members of the Democratic House leadership team have one million followers or more, but their Republican counterparts seem to rely less on Twitter.
- Here’s a breakdown of how many followers freshman and senior members of Congress from both parties have compared to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Lawmakers are increasingly building up their personal brands on social media, including Twitter, in order to advance their policy goals and political ambitions – but Democrats tweet more often and tend to have larger followings than their GOP colleagues.
A report from DC-based analysis firm Quorum found that in 2018, Twitter was the most popular social media platforms for lawmakers of both parties and across all age groups, followed by Facebook and Instagram.
Along with her innovative use of Instagram Live, freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York partially fueled her meteoric rise in politics by interacting with fans, “clapping back” at her detractors, and letting her personality shine on Twitter.
She is also possibly the first-ever lawmaker to have her office eschew sending out traditional press releases to reporters, instead using Twitter to communicate her policy initiatives and respond to major news events.
Ocasio-Cortez is the most-followed member of the House by a large margin, boasting 3.1 million followers on her personal account, @AOC. She also has 124,000 on her official congressional account, which was only created last month.
She, along with fellow Democrat Jim Himes, recently hosted a Twitter workshop to educate their fellow members of Congress on “the most effective ways to engage constituents on Twitter and the importance of digital storytelling,” USA Today reported.
The rest of the most-followed freshman Democrats are fellow young progressive women including Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts - who Ocasio-Cortez considers part of her "squad."
While they all heavily rely on Twitter as part of their social media and communications strategies, Omar recently found herself in hot water after posting tweets critical of pro-Israel lobbying that were widely denounced as anti-Semitic.
The second most-followed member of the House is Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, who has served in the chamber since 1987 and previously presided as speaker from 2007 to 2011. She's maintained a professional account since 2008 which now has 2.2 million followers.
After Pelosi, the other most-followed senior Democrats are civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who have around one million followers each. Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters also boasts 982,000 followers.
Even though Twitter is the most popular social media platform among members of Congress, Democrats tweet at significantly higher rates than Republicans.
The Quorum report concluded that in 2018, Twitter accounts belonging to Democratic lawmakers posted 42% more tweets than those belonging to Republicans.
The most-followed GOP representative is freshman Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas with 319,000 followers, which is around 10% of Ocasio-Cortez's total following.
Like Ocasio-Cortez, Crenshaw is a charismatic millennial member of Congress who is particularly adept at using Twitter to engage his supporters, including recently making a joke comparing the progressive Green New Deal legislation to the failed Fyre Festival.
The second and third most-followed Republicans are Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana with 291,000 followers and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California with 236,000.
"I think we both inherently understand how to reach people with wildly different views," Crenshaw told the Washington Examiner of the similarities between his and Ocasio-Cortez's social media strategies.
"She's also much more combative. I try not to be as combative. That's about where the comparison ends," Crenshaw added.