A fascinating analysis of interactions on Twitter with major politicians in the era of Donald Trump at FiveThirtyEight, worth reading to understand the difference between different kinds of Twitter interactions–and what they say about those politicians, you know, politically:
Three things can happen to a tweet once you send it into the world: It can get retweeted, it can get liked, and it can get replied to. Any of these can be nice, like a little food pellet from the digital universe, proof that someone out there is paying attention. But sometimes instead of giving you food pellets, the universe is flinging pebbles at you. If the replies stack up, outpacing the retweets and the likes, you may have a problem. Your tweet may be a bad tweet.
“The lengthier the conversation” sparked by a post, “the surer it is that someone royally messed up,” Luke O’Neil wrote recently in Esquire. “It’s a phenomenon known as The Ratio.” David Roth, writing for Deadspin, compared a bad ratio to a bad baseball stat line. A tweet with 198 replies, 34 retweets and 83 likes, for example, is the Adam Dunn of tweets: .198 batting average, 34 home runs and 83 RBIs. The Huffington Post’s Ashley Feinberg put it more bluntly: “I would say any time you have more replies than favs, you fucked up in some capacity.”
The operative principle here is that affirmative interactions like retweeting a Twitter post or “liking” the post are very different from Twitter replies–which indicates, though certainly not 100% of the time, a greater degree of controversy or disagreement among Twitter users who read said post. If you look at the replies to almost any Donald Trump Tweet, they are overwhelmingly negative, even though in most cases the posts have many more “likes” and retweets. In the cases where the replies outnumber those positive interactions, it’s for really nasty examples like Trump’s attacks on MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski.
With this in mind, FiveThirtyEight asked, which U.S. Senators provoke the most anger from their Tweets?
The three senators furthest out toward replies corner are Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania; Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky; and Cory Gardner, Republican of Colorado. [Pols emphasis]
In short, Cory Gardner gets absolutely drilled on Twitter by this measurement, with critical responses measured by replies coming at a much higher rate than even President Trump. That Gardner has one of the worst such ratios of any U.S. Senator, indicating a broadly hostile reception by his followers, correlates with the loss of popularity in Colorado Gardner has seen in public opinion polls–and underscores the large protests outside his offices that have been a regular news item since January.
Here’s yet another yardstick by which Cory Gardner is reaping Trump’s whirlwind.