Rational 360 analyzed which people, topics, and tweets resonated most with Washington Influencers during the State of the Union Address. Democratic and Republican members of Congress were more engaged this year compared to last year’s Joint Address (5,100 tweets this year vs. 4,459 in 2017—a 15 percent increase), but that’s where their similarities ended.

GOP: Stuck to the Script and Touted Accomplishments

Daily graph of Congressional Republican tweets in January.

Congressional Republicans tweeted 2,238 times on the day of the State of the Union—1,641 higher than the January average. 61.89 percent of those posts directly mentioned the State of the Union by name or hashtag. Last year on the day of the Joint Session, GOP members tweeted 2,046 times with 41.15 percent of those posts directly mentioning the Joint Session by name or hashtag.

SOTU posts this year held a 66 to 34 positive to negative ratio—a 7-point downward shift in positivity compared to last year’s Joint Address. This was mostly due to the fact that GOP members tweeted and retweeted quotes from the State of the Union..

Two of the top hashtags Republicans used that day were #TaxReform (3.66 percent) and #TaxCutsJobAct (2.50 percent). During last year’s Joint address Republicans also touted the president’s recent success, having signed an executive order on the Clean Water Act that same day. Congressional Democrats opted for #GOPTaxScam this year, which made up 3.52 percent of their SOTU conversations.

Overall, Republicans did not deviate from the script. The top 10 retweets all quoted key points from the State of the Union and came from official accounts like the White House (6 tweets), as well as from Donald Trump, the GOP House official account, Paul Ryan and the GOP House Appropriations Committee.

Democrats: Unified to Resist and Fact Check:

Democrats tweeted 2,862 times on the day of the State of the Union—27.88 percent more than GOP members. 56.25 percent of those posts directly mentioned the State of the Union by name or hashtag. This is compared to the day of the Joint Session, where Democrats tweeted 2,413 times that day—17.97 percent more often than the GOP did last year.

On multiple occasions the top retweeted tweets and used hashtags by Democrats were often the top retweeted tweets and hashtags used by all members of Congress combined.

Democrats, whose conversational sentiment already skews negative when talking about the president, went up 5 points more negative from last year and maintained a 36 to 65 positive to negative ratio.

Unlike the GOP members who quoted the SOTU throughout the campaign, Democrat messaging focused on #ThingsTrumpWontTalkAbout, criticizing the immigration plan that he laid out—which they saw as divisive and dangerous, and fact-checking the president’s speech.

As a result, second to #SOTU, #ThingsTrumpWontTalkAbout was the top used hashtag by Democrats (4.05 percent). In fact it was the top used hashtag among all members of Congress even though Republicans did not use the tag at all. Democrats used it to point out topics that the president glossed over or did not mention at all including:

Funding America’s infrastructure (5.10)

The Russian investigations (5.45 percent)

Sexual harassment allegations (5.42 percent)

Job cuts since the tax reforms (7.58 percent)

…and many more

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Keep an eye out for our next index, which analyzes Washington Influencer conversations throughout January, and what to look forward to in February! 

Rational 360 maintains an exclusive list of 1,029 Influencers in the policy and political space and analyzes tweet patterns with a variety of analytics tools including Crimson Hexagon. This group includes 539 official accounts of members of Congress, 35 Cabinet heads and departments, 175 members of the media and 140  Democratic and 140 Republican pundits, experts and strategists. This group was selected by determining users’ influence within DC-centric conversations.

Rational 360 is a full-service bipartisan strategic communications and digital agency with offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and Seattle. The firm provides strategic counsel, executes sophisticated communications programs, and directs creative and effective public affairs campaigns that change perceptions and advance client agendas. Known for its campaign-style approach, Rational 360 executes communications strategies with urgency, speed, and a relentless emphasis on outcomes. For more information about the DC Influencer Index or Rational 360, email digital@rational360.com.