Who Leads? Who Follows? Measuring Issue Attention and Agenda Setting by Legislators and the Mass Public Using Social Media Data

Abstract: Are legislators responsive to the priorities of the public? Research demonstrates a strong correspondence between the issues about which the public cares and the issues addressed by politicians, but conclusive evidence about who leads whom in setting the political agenda has yet to be uncovered. We answer this question with fine-grained temporal analyses of Twitter messages by legislators and the public during the 113th US Congress. After employing an unsupervised method that classifies tweets sent by legislators and citizens into topics, we use vector autoregression models to explore whose priorities more strongly predict the relationship between citizens and politicians. We find that legislators are more likely to follow, than to lead, discussion of public issues, results that hold even after controlling for the agenda-setting effects of the media. We also find, however, that legislators are more likely to be responsive to their supporters than to the general public.

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Attributes

License CC BY
DOI https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055419000352
Type Journal Articles
C-ID POLS 110 - American
Pedagogical Note Yes

Reviews

Pedagogical Note

I have assigned this article to my 1st and 2nd year students in an Introduction to American Government course.

This is one of three articles students are asked to analyze by identifying 11 parts: title, main point, question, puzzle, debate, theory, hypotheses, empirical analysis, policy implications, and contribution to the discipline, and future research. And writing out the research design using notation.

I like this article because: the topic is interesting to students (legislators and social media); it is clearly organized and denotes hypotheses is bold; and provides descriptive statistics in Table 1 and list of issues in Table 2.

I would assign this article to students in upper-division Congressional Politics, Public Opinion, or Politics and Technology course.

2 months ago

Review Who Leads? Who Follows? Measuring Issue Attention and Agenda Setting by Legislators and the Mass Public Using Social Media Data.