The Portman Effect

By Becky Hogan

As the Supreme Court considers two high-profile cases on same sex marriage, others are weighing in too.  And recently two unlikely politicians have been making headlines for their endorsements of gay marriage—Republican Senators Rob Portman and Mark Kirk.

Portman was the first Republican senator to publically endorse gay marriage a day before the Supreme Court began hearing arguments on the issue.  Kirk made a similar announcement last week.  Let’s see how Portman and Kirk compare in national news and social media garnered from their statements.

As might be expected, Portman received a lot more attention in national media for his announcement—not only was he the first to make such an announcement, but the timing of his announcement came as the national spotlight was on the SCOTUS cases.  Portman also has a higher-profile in the Beltway, having been considered a possible GOP Vice Presidential candidate and for his involvement in budget issues.


On Facebook, Portman and Kirk got significant bumps in likes on their Facebook pages around the time of their respective announcements, however Portman received more likes compared to Kirk.


What’s more telling is the spike in FB mentions that Portman received both at the time of his announcement as well as on the heels of Kirk’s announcement.  Portman gained momentum after Kirk’s announcement, even while buzz about Kirk had subsided.  It seems as more politicians publicly support same sex marriage, credit is given to Portman for being a trailblazer on this issue.


Portman has a larger Twitter following than Kirk—with 27,803 followers as of the writing of this post which is 64% more followers than Kirk.  If we look at the daily change, Portman saw a greater upsurge in followers around the time of his announcement compared to Kirk.


Check back here to see how lawmakers and pundits are gaining attention in the press and in social media for their statements on other hot-button issues.


National Media includes: WSJ, LATimes, NYTimes, WaPo, HuffPost, Fox News, CNN, USA Today.

FB Likes Daily Change is the change in the number of Facebook Likes on each person’s page compared to the previous day.

FB Talked Abouts is the number of unique users who have created a story about a page in a 7 day period.

TW Followers Daily Change is the change in the number of Twitter Followers on each person’s Twitter account compared to the previous day.


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