What’s on Senators’ Minds: A Twitter Analysis | August 30, 2021

Topics that Strongly Resonate with Senators in Either Party
Topics that are Trending with Some Senators

Sensing the increasing polarization in America, in 2020, I embarked on a project to quantify and visualize common ground amongst the 100 senators. The idea was to understand what was on each senator’s mind and common themes that ran through their tweets. The project mines the recent tweets of the senators and uses various NLP techniques to identify topics that are top of mind for them. I represent the most discussed topics across both parties in word cloud graphics. Regularly, I’ll be picking up the word clouds and summarizing some of the issues bubbling up.

Afghanistan (Kabul, Force, Allies, Military): 20 years after the United States removed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, they have returned and quickly swept to victory. The group completed their rapid advance across the country by capturing Kabul on August 15. The advance came shortly after foreign forces announced their withdrawal following a deal between the US and the Taliban. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions, and many wonder whether the new rule will strip women’s political and civil liberties across the country. United States Senators are conferring on the potential ramifications, with many castigating President Biden on his response.

Senators For Whom Afghanistan is a Key Topic

Ida (Hurricane, Coast, Storm, Landfall): Hurricane Ida made landfall as a Category 4 storm on Sunday morning along the Gulf Coast; officials claim it is the largest hurricane to hit Louisiana in at least 165 years. By Sunday evening, its maximum sustained winds were reported to be 125 mph. Ida is forecast to remain a hurricane through late Sunday night and a tropical storm until Monday afternoon, and more than 560,000 people were without power across Louisiana as of Sunday afternoon. Senators are advising evacuations and urging caution during this tumultuous time.

Wildfire: Yet another intense wildfire has hit California. The Chaparral Fire, burning southwest California, began midday Saturday and has burned more than 1,400 acres in Riverside and San Diego counties. More than 41,000 Californians are under evacuation orders. According to Cal Fire, the wildfire forced evacuations as well as prompting warnings for residents bordering the Cleveland National Forest to “leave now.” Senators are discussing the fires and their impact on Californians. Some are citing climate change and the drought as reasons for the increased magnitude of the recent wildfires.

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