GW Launches New Tip Sheet on Political Twitter Activity

U.S. News & World Report will publish “The ECHO” every Friday.

September 11, 2017

Researchers at the George Washington University launched on Friday a new weekly recap of political activity on Twitter. The publication, called The ECHO, will quantify which politicians, issues, campaigns and political institutions are garnering the most traction on the social media platform.

U.S. News & World Report will publish ECHO updates each Friday morning.

The inaugural edition of The ECHO found a dramatic increase in social media activity surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, with 5.3 million related tweets during the Aug. 31-Sept. 6 report period. That represented a 3,638 percent increase from the previous week. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the program on Sept. 5. 

Politicians in the spotlight in this week’s report included Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), whose state the president visited on Wednesday, and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), who introduced a legislative effort in Congress related to the DACA program. The roughly 14,000 tweets about Ms. Heitkamp represented a 3,712 percent increase in discussion about her. The 9,000 tweets about Mr. Coffman were 1,082 percent higher than the previous week.

The two legislators were included in a cohort of politicians involved in key 2018 campaigns. In addition to key races, The ECHO also collects U.S. data on tweets about top institutions, including political parties, chambers of Congress and the White House; newsmakers and hot topics, as detected by various trend-identification services and publications; and top tweets, which are listed as examples of posts that drove the week’s discussion on Twitter. 

“We are excited to offer this weekly insight with our partners at U.S. News & World Report,” said Michael Cohen, the Anthony Coelho Assistant Professor of Political Management at GW. “As we learned from our PEORIA Project research last year, if you’re not tracking the conversation on Twitter, you’re missing what’s going to happen in U.S. politics. This new tip sheet and analysis will fill that gap every week.”

The data for The ECHO is collected and analyzed using Forsight, a product of social media data analysis firm Crimson Hexagon. The ECHO is part of the Public Echoes of Political Rhetoric in America (PEORIA) Project at GW’s Graduate School of Political Management. Dr. Cohen, who is also the interim director of the school’s Political Management program, leads the research and analysis for the publication. 

The ECHO is funded in part through a donated software license from Crimson Hexagon. 


Politics and Society