WASHINGTON — Republicans in general, and Michele Bachmann in particular, are on the rise on Twitter, with the leader of the House Tea Party Caucus now cracking the top 10 among legislative Twitterers on Capitol Hill.
In January, Bachmann had 11,293 followers and came in 11th overall. She’s now nearly doubled that with 21,886 and currently ranks eighth, according to the Burson-Marsteller researchers who reviewed each lawmaker’s totals.
Eight of the top ten accounts are now held by Republicans. Top of the list, once again, is Arizona Sen. John McCain with more than 1.7 million followers. And a separate study last month found that the GOP was gaining Twitter followers at almost twice the rate of their Democratic counterparts.
So why is that important? Communication to supporters is always key, especially in an election year, and Twitter provides a direct, digital line to them accessible at almost no cost to the officeholder but the time it takes to type 140 characters or less and click “Tweet.”
“The 2008 presidential election demonstrated the potential of the social and digital media space to engage supporters and build online communities to impact electoral outcomes,” said Dallas Lawrence, a spokesman for Burson-Marsteller. “2009 highlighted the power of social media to impact public opinion and influence legislative and regulatory outcomes at the state and federal level. As we enter the final stretches of the 111th Congress, 2010 is clearly emerging as the year of social media’s dominance in the advocacy, stakeholder outreach and legislative arenas. This study clearly indicates that with two months before the general election, Republicans in Congress are much more visible and better positioned within the Twittersphere.”
The full study is here. For more on the topic, I’d point you to our earlier report on Twitter usage here as well as Jay Weiner’s report on “The Tweeting GOP” from early last week that examined this issue on a state level. And for what it’s worth, I’m available on Twitter at @dwallbank.
(Note: This post has been updated to reflect a clarification. I mistyped that the top eight Twitterers are Republicans — meant to say eight of the top ten. My bad. -DW)