The 2020 election occurred in a vastly different cultural and political climate than the 2016 race, reports Pew Research Center.  A new Pew Research Center analysis explores the unique ways members of Congress used Facebook and Twitter to engage with the public throughout each election cycle in the months leading up to and after Election Day, finding that the 2020 election was simply much more online than the preceding presidential cycle.

The following was provided by Pew:

Lawmakers shared tens of thousands more posts in 2020 – and received orders of magnitude more engagement from other social media users – than was the case in 2016. Between Sept. 8 and Dec. 8, 2016, legislators produced 207,009 posts on Facebook and Twitter combined. During a similar period in the 2020 election cycle (Sept. 3 to Dec. 3, 2020), lawmakers produced 315,818 posts across these two platforms. Audience engagement with the posts produced by lawmakers on social media also increased across both platforms since 2016, but especially on Twitter. Lawmakers on Twitter received more than 16 times as many favorites and nearly seven times as many retweets during the 2020 election study period as in 2016.

In addition to volume of posts, the study explored the content of lawmakers’ social media feeds to shed light on the contours of each election. For example, researchers explored the distinctive language each party used on social media to engage with their constituencies. Across both elections, Democratic and Republican lawmakers communicated with language that was disproportionately used by their own party relative to the other. Republicans’ most distinctive language included terms such as “bless,” “Israel,” “defund” and “liberal,” while in 2020, Democrats’ most distinctive language referred to equality and representation (“equality”), voting (“make [a] plan [to] vote”) and aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic and healthcare in general (“COVID case[s],” “health insurance”).

Donald Trump was a mainstay of Democratic lawmakers’ social media feeds in both 2016 and 2020. In 2016, “Trump” was the second-most common term used by Democratic lawmakers on social media. And in 2020, “Trump” was the single-most mentioned word among Democratic lawmakers, appearing more than 33,000 times in their posts. By contrast, the 10 most-used words among Republican lawmakers did not mention either of the Democratic presidential nominees in 2016 or 2020.


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