When presumptive House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, wanted to announce the unveiling of the House Republicans' proposal to repeal President Obama's health care law on Monday, he went to his Twitter account, handled @GOPLeader. He tweeted: "The repealing the job-killing health care law act has been posted online: http://is.gd/k3lbn #pledge #hcrcostsjobs."
Judging by his tweeting habits, Boehner appears to have something of a violent streak. Over the course of his last 200 tweets, he has included the word “killing” 27 times. It is his fifth-most-used word, and in the new media universe in which Republicans will soon take control of the House, it is now easier to judge what the political message of the moment is. All you need is a tweet monitor.
If Boehner is a serial killer, his only target is legislation that he believes will hurt job creation. After all, “jobs” is tied for his fifth-most-tweeted word, also showing up 27 times. The two tend to appear in tandem, as in “House Democrats holding a vote today on a jobs-killing tax hike on small businesses.” Boehner's No. 1 tweeted word of late, according to the website twordsie.appspot.com: “spending,” with 33 mentions. It's fair to say he's been on message.
Twitter monitoring is now an easy way to see what particular message frame is popular at any moment. With the GOP surging to power in the House and gaining seats in the Senate on a message of fiscal responsibility, it’s no surprise that Boehner would use his micro-blogging tool as a way to promote tax and spending cuts. But some political figures seem to have other things on their minds.
Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, for example, seems mostly to be thinking about, well, Sarah Palin. Her favorite word lately is “Palin,” which she has used 29 times, followed by “Alaska” at 26, then “Sarah” at 24. Palin tends to retweet mentions of herself, which is why she can tweet her own name so many times without sounding like one of those athletes who talk about themselves in the third person in interviews. It doesn’t hurt that the TV network TLC is currently airing a reality show with all three of Palin's oft-used words in the title.
The most-tweeted term by outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is, technically, "USA." But it’s not because she is leading fist-pumping chants (“USA! USA! USA!”). Pelosi is an avid tweeter of links to her official website, which when shortened contains “usa” in the url. Typical example: “GOP provisions in tax proposal help only wealthiest 3 [percent], don't create jobs, & add tens of billions to deficit http://go.usa.gov/1n9.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who has a robust following of more than 44,000 people, lives in the present on Twitter. Her most-tweeted word is “today.” She also tends to be one of the more positive members of the twitterati. Her top-10 list of tweeted words includes “great,” “good,” and “love.” McCaskill uses Twitter not just to tout her work but also to keep constituents up to speed on some aspects of her personal life. For example: “Mom's with me in DC this week. I love it when she is here. I know she's my mom, but I swear she is very very special.”
And then, of course, there is always the politician with the bizarre list of most-tweeted words. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., is one of those people. Last week, two of his top words were “tbd” and “sweater.” McCotter doesn't dedicate Twitter to his political viewpoints alone; it’s also a vehicle to discuss the status of an ugly-sweater contest put on by tbd.com. Now, with the oft-maligned Detroit Lions football team ending their season with a four-game winning streak, the word Lions has become his second-most tweeted term.
*Note: Numbers subject to change as Twitterers continue to tweet.