Interactive guide: the midterms’ web of influence on Twitter

By ‎@smfrogers‎
Monday, 3 November 2014

A key measure of influence in politics is one’s network. Our new interactive visual explores the relationships between candidates in tomorrow’s U.S. midterm elections.

Using data from election.twitter.com – our new Twitter #Election2014 dashboard (more about that here) – this network graph built by Twitter data visualization scientist Nicolas Belmonte includes more than 1,600 Twitter accounts associated with Congressional representatives, senators, governors and the 2014 candidates for a number of these offices.

 Click image to explore the interactive

Click image to explore the interactive

The big circles are the politicians who follow (and are followed back by) the most others. Blue circles represent Democrats; red circles represent Republicans.

You can explore the interactive by:

  • searching for a politician by entering their name in the box at the top of the screen
  • clicking on a circle to show you how each politician is connected to other politicians on Twitter
  • clicking the button at the top to see the graph re-sized by number of followers — that will show which of these accounts have the most followers overall, irrespective of how many mutual connections they have
  • clicking the button at top to see the interactive colored by which office candidates are seeking (House, Senate, Governor)

After exploring this visualization, we’ve derived a few insights:

1. Politicians follow others from their own party

The visual is almost evenly split between 581 Republicans and 546 Democrats (along with a smattering of independents, which are colored gray). Of the 581 Republicans, 85% have no mutual connections on Twitter with a single Democratic politician or candidate. Similarly, 86% of the Democrats have no mutual Republican connections on Twitter.

2. The best-connected politicians are not those with the most followers

Rep. John Shimkus (IL-15; @RepShimkus) has more mutual followers than anybody else up for election next week: 165.

 Click image to explore the interactive

Click image to explore the interactive

He not only follows Republicans, but also an impressive number of Democrats, accounting for 13% of his mutual follows. One of his connections is Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette from Colorado (CO-1; @RepDianaDeGette), who also follows (and is followed back by) a number of Republicans:

 Click image to explore the interactive

Click image to explore the interactive

3. Crossing the aisle

See those blue dots among the red (and vice versa)? Those outliers follow politicians from outside their party. For example, Mark Takai, (H1-1; @MarkTakai) follows other Hawaiian politicians from both parties:

 Click image to explore the interactive

Click image to explore the interactive

4. The view by office

Look what happens when we switch to the office view to see how senators connect to representatives and governors, regardless of party:

Click image to explore the interactive

Click image to explore the interactive

These are just some of the insights we’ve learned from this visualization: what can you find?

The interactive can be Tweeted or embedded by clicking either the ‘Tweet this view’ or ‘Embed this view’ buttons at the top of the screen.