Utilizing a social media listening tool, Signal has been tracking tweets from lawmakers in their response to COVID-19 on Twitter. This report reflects data from the month of May and seeks to understand how the conversations around COVID-19 have shifted in Washington D.C.
The data from May suggests that Republican lawmakers are not tweeting about COVID-19 at the same rate as their Democratic counterparts. This indicates Republican legislators may be pivoting away from the conversation around coronavirus towards other legislative priorities.
Not only is there a difference in the volume of tweets from Republican and Democratic legislators, but there is also contrasting rhetoric and hashtags being utilized to discuss the pandemic. Conversation insights from the month of May indicate differing legislative priorities between the parties.
For example, in May Democratic lawmakers introduced H.R.6800 – The Heroes Act legislation, which passed in the House. During this period, the hashtag #HeroesAct garnered 334 mentions from Democratic lawmakers, while the data reflects Republicans had very limited mentions of this hashtag. In the same time frame Republican lawmakers used the hashtag #paycheckprotectionprogram at a much higher rate than their Democratic colleagues. While both parties tweeted about the Cares Act.
Additionally, Republican policymakers were tweeting about China in conjunction with coronavirus using the hashtag #china and #cpp while their Democratic counterparts did not use #china or #ccp in this period.
The difference in rhetoric, use of hashtags and volume of COVID-19 tweets could reflect the political divide pertaining to the reopening the country. A POLITICO-Harvard study polled Americans earlier in May regarding their opinion on reopening America. The results demonstrate that the majority of Republicans (60%) support the reopening of nonessential businesses in their states, while only 29% of Democrats supported this next phase of reopening. Given these findings, Republican lawmakers are likely to align with this opinion and perhaps pivot away from discussions of coronavirus on social media.
Policymakers’ Twitter activity around coronavirus could be indicative of the partisan divide around the reopening of America, and pending legislation such as H.R.6800 – The Heroes Act. Conversation insights suggest that the less frequent mentions of coronavirus from the Republican party, could be attributed to their support to reopen nonessential businesses, given the toll this pandemic has taken on our economy.
As our nation continues to confront this pandemic, it is important to continue to monitor these conversations. The rhetoric our policymakers use on social media is indicative of future legislative priorities, and the conversation occurring on Capitol Hill.
For more information about how lawmakers are talking about COVID-19 on Twitter, download the full report here: COVID-19 On Twitter.