President Trump’s first 100 days are complete. His signature legislative accomplishment, renaming the Veterans Affairs community-based outpatient clinic in Pago Paga, American Samoa, has been universally hailed as the most important political achievement since FDR’s New Deal. To gain some insight into this groundbreaking policy, and the rest of President Trump’s first 100 days, I analyzed the nearly 70,000 tweets posted by members of Congress since Trump has become president.
I evaluated these tweets using a lexicon created by Saif Mohammad, a computational linguist at the National Research Council Canada. This lexicon is a list of thousands of English words with sentiments (negative or positive), and emotions (anger, anticipation, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, surprise, and trust) linked to them. By counting the words from a tweet that fit into each category, we can get a sense of the sentiments and emotions conveyed in the tweet.
Ready to dive in? Here’s what I learned…
1. Unsurprisingly, Democrats have been more negative than Republicans in the first 100 days — but Trump is even more angry, sad, disgusted, and fearful than the Democrats.
By counting all the positive words and all the negative words that each representative tweets, you can get a sense of the sentiment that each representative has conveyed on Twitter over this time period. The plot below shows where each representative falls on these two scales. The number of positive and negative words are divided by the total number of words that each representative has tweeted. Republicans are clearly more positive (slightly further to the right) and much less negative (lower down).
President Trump (the large orange blob) is also shown on the graph.
“stop words” such as “the”, “on”, and “which”) are excluded from this graph.
The blue curves below show the distribution of each emotion among Democrats in Congress, red shows congressional Republicans, and the orange line indicates the emotion in Trump’s tweets during his first 100 days.
2. Nobody likes joyful tweets.
During the campaign, Donald Trump figured out that the public loves an angry, hateful old man. We can see that the public also likes angry tweets by examining which emotions and sentiments are associated with the number of times people like a congressional tweet. On average, every additional joyful word reduces the number of likes by 124. Using more angry, negative, surprising, and trusting words increases the number of likes. One of the tweets with the most of negative words was by Representative Luis Gutierrez. This tweet didn’t quite break the internet, but it was one of Rep Gutierrez’s 10 most liked tweets.
Trump’s people: they lie, they lie, they lie and when you lie under oath, that’s called perjury and you go to jail. pic.twitter.com/mwySjn4mJB
— Luis V. Gutierrez (@RepGutierrez) March 3, 2017
3. The Freedom Caucus is obsessed with the 9th Circuit Court.
Even though congressional Republicans are mostly lemmings following President Trump off a cliff (and taking the whole country with them), there are some differences between the Tea Party Freedom Caucus members and the rest of the Republican caucus. Examining which words each of these groups is more or less likely to use can tell us a bit about their priorities. It turns out that the Freedom Caucus is far more likely to talk about Mexico, executive orders (known as “eo”), and the 9th Circuit Court. That’s the court that refused to reinstate Trump’s travel ban, and that Trump said he’d break up after a San Francisco-based U.S. District Judge blocked Trump’s executive order to defund sanctuary cities. On the other hand, relatively moderate Republicans talk more about health issues, like providing health benefits for retired coal miners, and the opioid epidemic.
4. In a congress full of strange people, there are some strange outliers.
If Representative Kyrsten Sinema (who has the highest “positive” score and one of the lowest “negative” scores) wishes you a happy birthday, don’t feel too special. Every morning at 7AM, she sends out birthday messages to every representative and senator who has a birthday that day. In case you’re wondering, it doesn’t seem like Rep. Sinema is checking her birthday calendar while brushing her teeth every morning; these tweets are posted automatically using TweetDeck.
Happy birthday Sen. @RonWyden!
— Kyrsten Sinema (@RepSinema) May 3, 2017
Competing for most boring Twitter with Rep. Sinema is Rep. Trent Kelly. Rep. Kelly has one of the lowest “negative” scores in all of Congress. The vast majority of his tweets are just announcing people or groups that he has met with, such as, “It was great to see Jon Milstead with @CDFms and his son Jake at our DC office this afternoon. #MS01.” In fact, nearly one third (31%) of all of Rep. Kelly’s tweets from the last 100 days start with the phrases “It was great to…” or “It’s been great to…”
— Trent Kelly (@RepTrentKelly) May 2, 2017
Polling consistently shows that Congress is not very well liked, and Representative Robert Pittenger wins the prize for the least liked Twitter account. Though he has nearly 1,000 Twitter followers, on average, his tweets in the last 100 days received just over 2 likes. 27% of his tweets got no love at all. If Pittenger wants some help, he could ask Rep. Maxine Waters for advice, since her median tweet received 8,869 likes. While Rep. Pittenger seems to spend his time on Twitter copying and pasting talking points from the Heritage Foundation, Rep. Waters points out the absurdity of the Trump Administration with humor and wit.
Since Trump misses his old life so much, it's time for Congress to send him back to Mar-a-Lago, full time.
— Maxine Waters (@MaxineWaters) May 4, 2017
5. For some reason, nobody in Congress cares about the Faleomavaega Eni Fa’auau’a Hunkin VA Clinic.
Even though renaming the VA clinic in Pago Pago, American Samoa is routinely touted as the biggest legislative accomplishment in Trump’s first 100 days, nobody in Congress mentioned it on Twitter at all. Weird, right?