Twitter provides a new and important tool for political
actors, and is increasingly being used as such. In the
2010 midterm elections, the vast majority of candidates for
the U.S. House of Representatives and virtually all candidates
for U.S. Senate and governorships used Twitter to
reach out to potential supporters, direct them to particular
pieces of information, request campaign contributions, and
mobilize their political action. Despite the level of activity,
we have little understanding of what the political Twitterverse
looks like in terms of communication and discourse.
This project seeks to remedy that lack of understanding
by mapping candidates for federal office in 2010 and their
followers, according to their use of the 4016 most used hashtags
(keywords). Our data set is uniquely constructed from
tweets of most of the candidates running for the U.S. House
of Representatives in 2010, all the candidates for the Senate
and governorships, and a random sample of their followers.
From this we utilize multidimensional scaling to construct
a visual map based on hashtag usage. We find that our
data have both local and global interpretations that reflect
not only political leaning but also strategies of communication.
This study provides insight into innovation in new
media usage in political behavior, as well as a snapshot of
the political twitterverse in 2010.