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Who in Congress talks to Each Other?

On Twitter, at least, most of the communication is between members of the same party. That’s not all that surprising given the polarized Congress and a slew of recent social science findings about homogeneous connections among users. I still think it’s interesting though.

A couple months ago I blogged about using geometric mean instead of simple edge weight and reciprocation measures, and I put that to use recently on data from Congress’s mentioning on Twitter between March 2012 and October 2012. The images below show the resulting graph using various geometric mean thresholds to determine whether or not an edge should display.

Geometric Mean 1 or Greater

Geometric Mean 1 or Greater

The image above includes all reciprocal relationships, regardless of how one-sided those relationships were. The yellow edges mean that there were mentions across party. We see more here than Adamic and Glance did among political bloggers, but the red (Republican to Republican) and blue (Democrat to Democrat) mentions clearly occur much more frequently.

Geometric mean 10 or greater

Geometric Mean 10 or Greater

In this image, the threshold for display was 10. That means these people are mentioning each other pretty often. A couple things jump out right away – first that the network is quite fragmented. The reciprocal network looks like a single component (I’ll have to check to be sure), but this one clearly has multiple components. Second, there are very few between-party links. Near the bottom, we can see Senators McCain, Graham, Lieberman, and Ayotte. I’d love to hear how Sen. Ayotte ended up in a conversation with those guys. Near the top, there’s another bipartisan conversation between Representatives Yoder and Cleaver from neighboring states; off to the right there’s another between Senators Moran and Warner. I’ll also look into why those guys are chatty.

Those two groups in the middle, where names are overlapping too much to read, have just within-party mentions. One group of Republicans talk amongst themselves, and one group of Democrats do as well. Then, just to the left of center, we see Sen. Grassley talking to himself to/from multiple accounts. That makes me think there’s a problem with the data. But, that’s why I put stuff here first – I can blog while I clean data and before I write the paper. The other groups are mostly representing the same state or from the same party. This exercise definitely presents a whole slew of new interesting questions to ask and answer.

UPDATE: Those two accounts for Sen. Grassley are actually his accounts – ChuckGrassley and GrassleyOffice.

So, what do you think ?

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