What’s on Senators’ Minds: A Twitter Analysis | October 24, 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 will go over the two senators with the highest topicality score (i.e. they are discussing topics that are resonating strongly with other senators on both sides) and the topics they discuss.

Senator Tim Scott

This network graph represents the group of senators that most closely tweet about similar topics as Senator Tim Scott:

The following map represents the states where the most similar senators in terms of topics are:

Cost of Build Back Better Bill: Senator Tim Scott opposes the drastic spending on the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill. With Republicans unified in opposition, Democrats are using a special budgetary process known as “reconciliation” to avoid the 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass the bill on a party-line vote. The Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill is one of two significant pieces of legislation that form Biden’s domestic agenda. While the other bill is focused on infrastructure, Build Back Better focuses on a long list of social policies and programs ranging from education to healthcare to housing to climate.

Climate Change: Senator Tim Scott supports the American Conservation Coalition for sponsoring the Growing Climate Solution Act, a bill that will help link farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to voluntary carbon markets.

Senator Amy Klobuchar

This network graph represents the group of senators that most closely tweet about similar topics as Senator Amy Klobuchar:

The following map represents the states where the most similar senators in terms of topics are:

Facebook: Senator Amy Klobuchar denounces Facebook for its role in the January 6 insurrection. According to the Washington Post, a new SEC affidavit alleges Facebook executives undermined efforts to fight misinformation, hate speech, and other problematic content “out of fear of angering then-President Donald Trump and his political allies, or out of concern about potentially dampening the user growth key to Facebook’s multibillion-dollar profits.”

Freedom to Vote Act: Senator Amy Klobuchar is advocating for universal voting standards as debates surrounding election integrity continue to arise. According to new Brennan Center research, between January 1 and July 14, more than 400 bills that included provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 states. During that same time, 18 states have enacted 30 laws that make it harder for people to vote.

Exploring the moral & ethical dimensions of emerging policy and technology issues.