CP photo by Ryan Deto
Tweets are gauged by how far they spread and what reactions they receive. A good tweet is typically retweeted far and wide, and also receives thousands of likes, or faves. A bad tweet is one that receives more replies than likes. This phenomenon is called being "ratioed"
and it has become generally accepted on Twitter that being ratioed means the tweet is a poor take on an issue.
“The lengthier the [Twitter] conversation, the surer it is that someone royally messed up,” wrote Luke O’Neil on Esquire Magainze
’s website in April 2017.
And new data from progressive analytics firm Data For Progress
shows that the U.S. Senator with the worst ratio and highest percentage of ratioed tweets is none other than Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Lehigh). Data for Progress calculated every U.S. senator’s Twitter ratio by dividing all senators’ tweets by the number of replies they received from Dec. 25, 2016 to April 18, 2018.
Toomey’s Twitter account, @SenToomey
, recieved in this time period about 118,000 replies to about 68,000 likes, a ratio of 173 percent. This means Toomey’s tweets see almost two replies for every like. Toomey’s most ratioed tweet came on June 22, 2017 when he tweeted a statement of his support for Senate Republicans’ failed effort to repeal Obamacare (see below). The tweet has 1,064 comments to 43 likes, a ratio of 2474 percent. And while some replies can be affirmative in nature, scrolling through Toomey’s feed shows scores of critical and angry replies.
For example, when Toomey tweeted his support of a Senate vote to undo a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
rule to regulate car loans on April 17, a Twitter user replied “Consumers are getting trapped in predatory car loans and have zero recourse. Now you plan to make the problem worse. You're a horrible senator and person.”
Toomey also has the highest percentage of his tweets ratioed at 76 percent. More than three out of four tweets that Toomey sends cause some sort of outrage.
Toomey has received extra scrutiny since the election of President Donald Trump, including the formation of Tuesdays with Toomey protest groups. During the 2016 campaign, Toomey was reluctant
to endorse or condemn Trump, and only announced he voted for Trump hours before the polls closed. Both Trump and Toomey secured Pennsylvania victories by less than 1.5 percentage points.
Since Trump won the election, protesters in Pittsburgh and across the state have been critical of many of Toomey’s political choices, especially his failure to hold a public town hall
, his support of U.S. education secretary Betsy Devos and his backing of Republican’s failed attempt to repeal Obamacare
To be fair, Twitter is much friendlier to Democrats than it is to Republicans. Most Democratic senators have overwhelming positive Twitter presences, including Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey (D-Scranton). According to the data, Casey has received about 250,000 likes compared to only 21,685 replies. Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris has a whopping 19 million likes compared to only 848,000 replies.
But that doesn’t mean Toomey’s terrible Twitter ratio should be discounted. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain has only had 8 percent of his tweets ratioed. Less than 1 percent of Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s tweets have been ratioed. And even senators that have a national spotlight given their leadership positions, like Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have better ratios than Toomey. McConnell has a ratio of 99 percent with 57 percent of his tweets crossing the ratio threshold.
The second most ratioed Twitter account among senators comes from Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner; 70 percent of Gardner’s tweets receive more replies than likes. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman also has a bad Twitter ratio of 120 percent, but it still is nowhere close to Toomey’s 173 percent.
In fact, many Republicans from swing states, like Wisconsin and Nevada, have bad twitter ratios in the era of Trump. Something they might want to consider as their terms come closer to expiring.