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News Fanning Facebook: More extreme, more followers

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Highly ideological members have the most followers

If members of Congress want more Facebook followers, they may have to amp it up.

A new Pew Research Center analysis reveals that the most liberal and conservative members of the 115th Congress have attracted more Facebook followers than moderates.

In both the House and the Senate, a member's ideology is a strong predictor of the number of people who follow them on Facebook. The most liberal and most conservative House members had a median of 14,361 followers, compared with 9,017 followers for those in the middle of the ideological spectrum. The median number of followers for the Senate’s most liberal and conservative lawmakers was 78,360, while moderates had 32,626.

In the House, for example, Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who chaired the high-profile Select Committee on Benghazi, had more Facebook followers than any other House member, with slightly over 1.3 million followers.

In the Senate, the pattern of predictionis driven by a small number of prominent members in both parties, including Democrat Bernie Sanders of Vermont, with about 7.3 million followers, and  Texas Republican Ted Cruz, with 2.1 million followers. 

While the analysis couldn't explain the pattern, it offered a possible reason: "A February Pew Research Center analysis of Facebook posts shared by members of the previous Congress found that very liberal or conservative lawmakers were more likely to share content that expressed indignation or disagreement on political matters, and that such posts drew more engagement online. Other research that examined past Congresses using the same measure of ideology has found that media outlets were more likely to cover the most liberal and conservative members of the U.S. House than they were moderates."

For full details, check out the story at the Pew Research Center.

Story published on 8/24/2000 ; last modified on  
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​In Congress, it pays to push ideology, at least to get Facebook followers. A Pew study finds that those who are highly liberal or conservative have more followers. Why? They post more.

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Fanning Facebook: More extreme, more followers
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