Colorado’s congressional delegation took to Twitter in 2021 to extol their policies, raise money and take jabs at their enemies, not necessarily in that order.
The state’s seven U.S. House members and two U.S. Senators tweeted 10,052 times in 2021 from both personal and congressional accounts. The Colorado Sun analyzed those tweets to identify a variety of trends.
Four lawmakers accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total. Three of those also top the list of followers on Twitter. But the tweets with the greatest engagement among users might come as a surprise.
Only 23% of U.S. adults use Twitter compared with 69% who are on Facebook, according to Pew Research. But people interested in news and politics frequent Twitter. So the platform offers politicians a different, more engaged, audience, said Aaron Smith, director of the data labs research team at Pew Research Center.
“On Facebook … it’s your close friends, your close family members,” Smith said. On Twitter, “they’re younger, a higher share of folks with college educations, they’re more politically engaged. They are more likely to say that they follow the news closely. Just for Congress as a whole, you tend to see more activity on Twitter than on Facebook.”
All of Colorado’s delegation members tweet from congressional accounts that are governed by ethics rules prohibiting political content, including fundraising. And all but U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, also tweet from personal accounts connected to their campaigns where they make political statements and often ask for campaign cash.
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert accounted for 24% of all the delegation’s tweets. The Garfield County Republican sent 1,763 tweets from her personal account and 608 from her official congressional account.
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican, posted the second-most tweets. He sent 1,456 from his congressional account and 432 from his campaign account, accounting for 18% of the delegation’s total.
Democrats U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse each accounted for 12% of the delegation’s tweets.
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Denver Democrat, sent the fewest tweets last year at 518. Lamborn, meanwhile, hasn’t tweeted from a personal account in nearly 10 years.
Boebert also has the most Twitter followers, the only member of the delegation to top 1 million total followers. Most of those people follow her personal account. She won a court ruling last summer allowing her to block people from that account.
U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, is the only other member with more followers for his personal account than his official account. The rest of the delegation members have more followers for their congressional accounts.
Engagement varies for delegation
Despite Boebert’s prolific tweeting to her million-plus followers, she didn’t top the delegation when it came to the most engaging tweet as measured by likes and retweets.
That honor went to U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, of Lafayette, who in September tweeted his support for banning members of Congress from trading stocks. That tweet, from his personal account, received nearly 153,000 likes and more than 58,000 retweets.
U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, a Centennial Democrat, received nearly 160,000 likes and more than 29,000 retweets for his late March tweet about gun control. That tweet came from his congressional account following the March 22 shooting deaths of 10 people at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder.
As for Boebert, she finished third in engagement when she tweeted a photo of herself, wearing a dress that said “Let’s Go Brandon” across the back, while standing next to former President Donald Trump, who is smiling and giving a thumbs-up. The tweet, from her personal account, received more than 64,000 likes and 11,000 retweets.
“The things that we see that get them engagement tend to fall into two categories,” Smith, from the Pew Research Center, said. “Either they’re talking about hot button issues – gun control, abortion, Jan. 6th, Supreme Court justices – or they’re basically expressing animosity towards their political opponents.”
Other topics that garnered high engagement for Bennet included mail ballots; for Buck, an attack on GoFundMe; and for Hickenlooper, allowing Washington, D.C., to become a state. Here’s a list:
Often-used words vary based on political party
The Colorado Sun also looked at frequently-used words in the tweets.
Democratic President Joe Biden’s last name was mentioned more than 1,300 times, most frequently by Boebert and Buck. The two Republican House members were also the most frequent users of the words Democrat and Republican. Boebert was the most frequent user of former GOP President Donald Trump’s last name, followed by DeGette.
Democratic lawmakers, notably Bennet, most often used the word Colorado. Democrats were also more likely to use the words COVID or coronavirus and climate.
Meanwhile, Boebert was the only lawmaker to use the word donate in the context of asking people to give to her campaign, which she did 32 times. She also asked for donations to two other Republican candidates. Buck asked for donations three times, all for other GOP candidates.