What’s on Senators’ Minds: A Twitter Analysis | November 10, 2021

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 also score each senator on how similar they are to both others in their own party and the opposing party. I did this by computing the distance between the word vectors. Finally, I represent the most discussed topics across both parties in a word cloud graphic.

This week, I’ll highlight two of the topics that seem to be generating considerable interest amongst the senators.

Topic: Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal

@lisamurkowski, @SenatorSinema, @SenatorBennet, @ChrisMurphyCT, @SenatorDurbin, @SenBillCassidy, @SenAngusKing, @SenatorTester, @SenatorShaheen, @SenCortezMasto, @SenJackyRosen, @SenSchumer, @senrobportman, @MarkWarner, @SenatorBaldwin, @Sen_JoeManchin

Many senators are tweeting about the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) that Congress passed this week. According to President Biden, this bill will present “a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness.” This bill promises the following investments:

  • Deliver clean water to all American families and eliminate the nation’s lead service lines
  • Ensure every American has access to reliable high-speed internet
  • Repair and rebuild our roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users
  • Improve transportation options for millions of Americans and reduce greenhouse emissions through the largest investment in public transit in U.S. history
  • Upgrade our nation’s airports and ports to strengthen our supply chains and prevent disruptions that have caused inflation. This will improve U.S. competitiveness, create more and better jobs at these hubs, and reduce emissions
  • Make the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak
  • Build a national network of electric vehicle (EV) chargers
  • Upgrade our power infrastructure to deliver clean, reliable energy across the country and deploy cutting-edge energy technology to achieve a zero-emissions future
  • Make our infrastructure resilient against the impacts of climate change, cyber-attacks, and extreme weather events
  • Deliver the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history by cleaning up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaiming abandoned mines, and capping orphaned oil and gas wells

These following senators are also form a strong clique around the bipartisan infrastructure topic:

Topic: Vaccine Mandates

The second topic that is resonating, though primarily with Republican senators is the issue of vaccine mandates. This is primarily in response to the Fifth Circuit issuing a stay order, that according to Reuters froze “the Biden administration’s efforts to require workers at U.S. companies with at least 100 employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly.” The stay order cited “grave statutory and constitutional” issues with the rule.

@JohnBoozman, @SenRickScott, @SenatorBraun, @JerryMoran, @RogerMarshallMD, @SenJohnKennedy, @SenHawleyPress, @SenHydeSmith, @MarshaBlackburn, @SenMikeLee, @SenRonJohnson

Some senators are also tying the impact of vaccine mandates on businesses and the supply chain.

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