Using Twitter alone, Duke experts say Bachmann most conservative, Paulsen most centrist

WASHINGTON — A new ranking of members of Congress suggests that Michele Bachmann is the most conservative Republican in the House, and that Erik Paulsen is the most in the center. Here’s the catch: It’s calculated not on votes, but by using their Twitter accounts.

A group of Duke University professors say they can figure out how liberal or conservative someone is just by looking at who someone follows on Twitter, and who follows them back. On first look, it seems to pan out in general though one can find obvious outliers quite easily (Keith Ellison, chairman of the House Progressive Caucus, is more conservative than former Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton, a prototypical Blue Dog? Umm, no).

The story, from the New York Times, is here. The chart ranking members’ Twitter accounts (also via NYT) is here.

The reason this study intrigues me is because most left-to-right rankings I cite are like National Journal’s, which tally votes taken. Perhaps this is a mathematical way to measure messaging? I’d be curious to see what other messaging rankings (compiled objectively by some stand-alone formula) exist, and how the Minnesota delegation stacks up.

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