Political Polarization of Elites on Social Media: An Analysis of U.S. Congress Members on Twitter

Published in IC2S2: 8th International Conference on Computational Social Science, 2022

Under Review

Extended abstract for 2022 IC2S2. The conference does not accept full paper this year.

Social media like Twitter has created new channels for congress members to send political messages, shape public figures, and even respond to inquiries from the other party. It has been hypothesized that politicians’ online behaviors should contain information about their agreements and conflicts offline, where their views are usually polarized by party affiliations (Kirkland 2012). However, compared to the large quantity in social media research about the political polarization of the general public (Conover et al. 2011; Barberá et al. 2015), which is known as mass polarization (Fiorina and Abrams 2008), fewer studies (Peng et al. 2016; Hong and Kim 2016) paid attention to the online polarization for political figures (elite polarization). Using 2021 twitter data of the Democrats and Republicans in the 117th U.S. Congress, our ongoing research aims to provide insights into the elite polarization in the current political system. Specifically, our analysis includes both the network structures and the discourse of the politicians on Twitter, contributing to a comprehensive study of the online elite polarization.