Category Archives: House Members

Allen West’s Online Footprint Expands


Allen West

By Becky Hogan

Since losing his congressional post in 2012, Allen West has increased his national profile as a conservative firebrand.

He’s one of the most outspoken critics of the Obama Administration, and there’s no doubt that since joining Fox News in May, he’s been able to expand his reach.

This week is a great example of West’s growing political brand. When Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson compared the Tea Party to the Ku Klux Klan this week in a fundraising e-mail,  West criticized both President Barack Obama and leading Democrats  for their silence on the e-mail.

West also called out Democratic National Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz among other Democratic leaders.  Interestingly, Wasserman Schultz responded the next day after West demanded a response.

But social data shows that Facebook users were talking more about West than either Wasserman Schultz or Grayson.

Grayson Gaffe

 

Not only was West able to solicit a response from Wasserman Schultz, but saw over 300,000 unique users talking about him the day after he on Facebook.

The former Flroida congressman took to Twitter Wednesday to voice his disgust on the Grayson issue: “Shocked r black POTUS hasn’t spoken out re: Klan imagery. Damn glad my parents inspired me to depart the plantation.”

This year West has seen major gains on Facebook as well as increasing gains on Twitter.

Allen West on Social Media

 

The former Florida congressman launched a new website earlier this month which is likely fueling his support on social media.  The news website, AllenBWest.com, is meant to be a platform for his conservative message. He’s seen over 127,000 new Facebook Likes in October alone and over 12,000 new Twitter followers this month.

In September, West told the press that he’d be interested in running for the U.S. Senate in 2016 if a spot opens up, though he has said he won’t challenge Marco Rubio for his seat.  In the meantime, he’s wasting no time expanding his national profile and using online engagement to gain supporters.

 

Social Media Applauds Pols Who Refuse Shutdown Paychecks


Sherrod Brown

By Becky Hogan

If you’re a member of Congress, your popularity is fading fast during the government shutdown. Let’s face it, the public isn’t happy that partisan gridlock has left thousands of federal workers furloughed. Plus, your colleagues on aren’t budging when it comes to ending the fiscal impasse.

But there’s still hope for your online engagement.  How can you generate some positive buzz in the midst of the government shutdown?

Take a page from Congresswoman Ann Wagner’s book.  Last week she was one of the first to announce that she would be withholding her pay during the government shutdown.

On her Facebook page, she said “As a result of partisan bickering and gridlock, I have waived my salary for the duration of the government shutdown because Congress didn’t get the job done. Those who make the laws should have to live by those laws, and I will continue to fight for the people of Missouri’s 2nd District.”

Her letter declining salary during the shutdown had been viewed by 17.4 million people on Facebook as of Friday.  She also tweeted a copy of the letter.

Our data shows Wagner’s Facebook gains since her announcement–approximately 7,000 Likes over one week.

Wagner Gains Likes

The Missouri Republican has been able to mitigate political risk with the announcement that she’d decline her pay–she’s also been a trendsetter for others on the Hill.

According to the Washington Post, at least 143 lawmakers have said that they plan to donate or refuse compensation earned over the course of the shutdown.

Here are two #SenateSweeps matchups where both Senators have announced that they have refused pay during the shutdown (Hint: Keep this in mind for your #SenateSweeps Bracket!).

In a 40-second YouTube video, Senator Lindsey Graham announced that he’ll donate his salary to the Wounded Warrior Project. He said, “I shouldn’t get a congressional salary while other federal employees are denied the ability to go to work. I’m going to take my salary during the government shutdown and donate it to the Wounded Warrior Project.”

Sessions was the sixth senator to announce he’d donate his paycheck–ahead of Graham and it showed on Facebook.  Graham was able to fight back on Twitter and YouTube after posting his video, but saw minimal gains.

Sessions v Graham

Another match-up in the first round of #SenateSweeps is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vs. Senator Tom Coburn. McConnell has received more attention on Facebook and Twitter than Coburn, likely because he has a more high-profile role in Senate negotiations.

Coburn v McConnell

Timing and message platform was everything in this case.  Wagner gained a lot attention around this story because she was one of the first to announce it and she did so effectively on Facebook and Twitter.  Graham’s YouTube video was a nice touch but he didn’t share it across all of his social platforms and it shows in his social stats.

Check back here to see how political trends are affecting your #SenateSweeps bracket.

Best Quotes of the Government Shutdown


Quotable Politicos

By Becky Hogan

It’s day four of the government shutdown and there doesn’t appear to be a clear end in sight. House Republicans seem determined not to pass a clean continuing resolution. And neither side wants to budge.

Here are some of the most outrageous quotes from congressional members this week about the government shutdown drama:

“We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.” – Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-IN)

At least he’s being honest.  Stutzman’s comments in an interview Tuesday with the Washington Examiner have drawn much criticism from Democrats and even President Obama who are blaming House Republicans for being unrealistic in the budget showdown.  President Obama mocked Stutzman’s comments Thursday as proof that House Republicans’ hardline stance is more about politics than passing a bill to fund the government.  Stutzman saw an upsurge in Facebook ‘Talked Abouts’ after the President blasted his comment. His Twitter followings, however, did not see dramatic increases.

Stutzman

“It’s kind of an insult to lemmings to call them lemmings,” he said of Tea Party conservatives in the House. “So they’d have to be more than just a lemming, because jumping to your death is not enough.” – Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA)

Congressman Nunes compared his Obamacare-obsessed colleagues in the House to lemmings on Monday, hours before the federal government shut down over funding the Affordable Care Act. His Twitter stats show he had the largest gain in Followers he’s had in the past month right after his comment comparing House Republicans to lemmings.

Nunes

“You know with a bully you cannot let them slap you around, because they slap you around today, they slap you five or six times tomorrow. We are not going to be bullied.” -Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

You know the shutdown fight is getting real when the leader of the Senate refers to Tea Party Republicans as bullies. Senate Democrats have argued that giving into anything on Obamacare would encourage Republicans to hit them again on debt ceiling legislation. Facebook can’t stop talking about Reid as the shutdown gridlock rages on–he’s seen increased ‘Talked Abouts’ every day this week.

Reid

“This is about the happiest I’ve seen members in a long time, because we see we are starting to win this dialogue on a national level,” she said.  -Represenative Michele Bachmann (R-MN)

The Minnesota congresswoman, a staunch supporter of the ‘Repeal’ movement, thinks Republicans are #winning. On Wednesday, Bachmann said she wasn’t worried about Republicans caving to pressure to end the government shutdown because this was the happiest she’s seen her colleagues.  On Facebook, Bachmann has seen almost double the amount of Likes during the shutdown drama as she had the two weeks prior.

Bachmann

“It’s very hard from a distance to figure out who has lost their minds. One party, the other party, all of us, the president.” -Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO)

Senator Claire McCaskill said what many are thinking Monday night in a speech on the Senate floor.  But she was reluctant to play the blame game, and her neutral comment didn’t pick up as many Likes as it did Talked Abouts on Facebook.

McCaskill

The bad blood between the two parties is only making it harder for the two sides to strike a deal. And the public is increasingly outraged about Congress’ inability to do it’s job–polls show that Republicans are getting most of the blame.

Still, Stutzman just wants a little respect…

Republicans in the Spotlight over Shutdown Stalemate


John Boehner

By Becky Hogan

The Congressional ping-pong match over funding the government doesn’t seem to be nearing a resolution. And the first government shutdown since 1996 will occur if lawmakers can’t strike a deal.

Obamacare has become Republicans’ key bargaining chip in the government funding bill wars.  If the government shuts down, national parks will close, passport processing services will cease, thousands of federal workers will be furloughed–and most likely Republicans will be blamed.

Polling shows that the public doesn’t like the idea of a shutdown and neither does Wall Street as the threat of a government shutdown sent stocks lower today.

Which key players are being talked about most on Facebook as the government shutdown looms?

Talk About a Shutdown

On Facebook, no one has been more talked about today than Senator Ted Cruz who has been leading the ‘Defund Obamacare’ movement.  Cruz is central to the debate because he’s not only angered Democrats and Republican moderates, he’s also revved up his base which is sending a lot of Facebook buzz his way.

Top Democrats who have been vocal about averting a government shutdown fall haven’t received nearly the buzz on Facebook that Republicans have.  Part of the reason for the discrepancy in Facebook chatter could be due to the fact that the GOP is divided on the issue and thus less predictable since the conservative faction in the party seems to be taking over.

The question now is how far House Speaker John Boehner will go to cater to Tea Party members. He has been working with Congressional Republicans for months to avoid a government shutdown, but in the face of Tea Party opposition has brought versions of the bill to the House floor that would defund or delay Obamacare.

Congressman Peter King said Monday that he plans to go against party leadership and vote against a government funding bill that includes delays Obamacare. He claims there may be other Republicans willing to do the same.  Interestingly he’s seen the least buzz on Facebook of any Republican, indicating that Facebook users may care less about averting a shutdown and more about defunding the health care law.

Senate Democrats have vowed from the beginning that any changes to Obamacare would be a deal-killer. The House passed two spending bill amendments Sunday—one that would delay Obamacare for one year, and another that would repeal the law’s medical device tax. The Senate again rejected the House proposal along party lines.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has showed no interest in negotiating with Republicans over the stalemate. On Saturday, he said he would refuse to give in to “Tea Party anarchists.”

Now focus is shifted back to the GOP-led House, and some political insiders have said GOP leaders may raise the stakes by also forcing a vote on a provision to eliminate government health care subsidies for members of Congress and their staff or by going after the law’s individual mandate provision.

 

Media Coverage on the Shutdown

Since the House CR was first rejected in the Senate last week, media coverage shows that Republicans have been garnering more attention than Democrats over the shutdown as well. Similar to Facebook data, Cruz has received the most media attention recently since his marathon speech on the Senate floor last week.  In contract to social media, news outlets have been more inclined to cover party leadership since this issue has become so deeply partisan.

Despite repeated rejection by the Democratic-led Senate and a veto threat by Obama, House Republicans seemed determined not to back down.  As the clock ticks closer to the midnight deadline, we’ll be watching to see how social media and news coverage react to developments on the Hill.

Cruz Isn’t Keeping Quiet


Peter King

By Becky Hogan

Republicans are furious with Ted Cruz.

Congressman Peter King said Thursday that  Cruz needs to ‘keep quiet’ and let the House do its job.

King has been very vocal in saying that attaching Obamacare to the continuing resolution to keep the government funded in the new fiscal year is a risky–even crazy–strategy for the Republican Party.

“When Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and Mike Lee fail in the Senate next week, maybe finally we Republicans will have ended their influence,” King said. “We as House Republicans should stop letting Ted Cruz set our agenda for us.”

But Cruz ins’t keeping quiet. Especially not on defunding Obamacare.

King vs. Cruz

News data shows that both Cruz and King have gotten a fair amount of coverage over the past two weeks, but Cruz’s national media attention took off this week since his statements on defunding Obamacare.

Cruz now says he will use every procedural tool necessary –including a filibuster–to make sure that the congressional spending bill doesn’t fund the health care law.

On Wednesday, Cruz seemed to concede the battle to defund Obamacare was lost in the Senate, igniting a backlash from House Republicans who accused the Texas senator of surrendering in a fight for which he has long advocated.

Rep. Tim Griffin from Arkansas offered this tweet: “so far Sen Rs are good at getting Facebook likes, and town halls, not much else. Do something.” Yikes.  According to NPR, The tweet was later deleted.

Georgia Congressman Tom Price tweeted: “House Republicans are turning words into action to defund #Obamacare. Ball will be in the Senate’s court.”

So on Thursday, Cruz reversed course, indicating he may wage a filibuster like Senator Rand Paul did earlier this year, to prevent Democrats from passing a spending bill that would continue funding Obamacare.

Cruz’s handling of the episode is sparking criticism from House and Senate Republicans. And while a government shutdown scenario seems unlikely, the deepening rift between the GOP has heightened concerns that it could happen.

Cruz has seen more Likes since he continued his battle cry to defund the health care law, than when he was announcing its doom.  King saw a small uptick after calling Cruz out for being a fraud, but has not seen the same level of gains that Cruz has.

Cruz threatens filibuster

The only way Cruz can succeed is if he convinces almost all Republican Senators to side with him, which is an unlikely event given how divided many Republicans are over the ‘Defund Obamacare’ movement.

Does Cruz face political risks? If the funding bill fails in the Senate, Cruz will get the blame from both sides of the aisle for causing a government shut down. If a bill passes the Senate that continues funding Obamacare, he’ll be blamed by the House GOP for not being an effective champion in the Senate.

We’ll keep watching to see what’s happening in the new media and on social channels as the Senate takes up the House CR.

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