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Who Did the 115th US Congress Retweet ?

Resource Type
Dataset : geographic information system (GIS) data, other, text
  • Hemphill, Libby (University of Michigan)
  • Schöpke-Gonzalez, Angela M. (University of Michigan)
  • Hodge, Caroline (University of Michigan)
  • Bredernitz, Chris (University of Michigan)
Publication Date
Free Keywords
Congress; twitter
  • Abstract

    This dataset includes the retweets posted on Twitter by accounts associated with members of the US Congress during the 115th Congress (2017-2018). The list of accounts combines two sources:
    • Justin Littman's list (
    • The United States project list (
    Tweets were collected using Twitter's Search API through the twitter_user_collector Python script (

    We filtered all tweets posted during the 115th Congress, leaving only those that have an associated attribute "retweeted_status", which indicates that the given CM's tweet is a retweet of another tweet. These retweets number 209,856 during the 115th Congress, made by 38,131 unique Twitter accounts.

    We preserved and renamed metadata these tweets provided through Twitter's API, including the fields 'tweet_id_str', 'full_text', 'user_id_str', 'user_screen_name', 'user_followers_count', 'created_at', 'retweet_count', 'retweeted_status', and 'year' (extracted from 'created_at').

    Beyond that tweet metadata provided through Twitter’s API, we collected additional demographic metadata for as many CMs as possible of those featured in our Tweet collection by using The United States Project's crowdsourced list of current legislators’ official Twitter handles, and associated metadata fields identifying a legislator’s unique bioguide ID ('bioguide' field), name (‘name’ field), chamber (‘chamber’ field), party (‘party’ field), state represented (‘state’ field), gender (‘gender’ field), and birthday (‘birthday’ field). For those CMs not included in The United States Project, we manually searched for information to fill each of these metadata fields.

    Based on which state each of these CMs represents, we assigned each CM a region (‘region’ field) based on those U.S. regional divisions outlined by Karl and Koss in their 1984 paper ( and which is also used by the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information. For those states not captured by Karl and Koss’ regions, we made determinations ourselves and assigned them according to climatological and cultural contexts. In doing so, we developed an additional regional label, “Islands”. Those states or territories that we independently assigned include American Samoa, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, District of Columbia, and Alaska.

    We determined age (‘age’ field) at the time of dataset creation (Jan. 10, 2020) according to CMs’ reported birthdays. We then grouped these ages into those age buckets 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70-79, 80-89 (‘age_bucket’ field).
    The OpenICPSR dataset features tweets by 520 CMs with this associated metadata.

    Finally, we include fields which describe the original tweet that the CM retweeted and the user who posted it. We include that original poster’s Twitter user ID ('rt_user_id' field), Twitter screen name ('rt_screen_name' field), number of Twitter followers ('rt_followers_count' field), and user bio ('rt_bio' field). We extracted these fields from the JSON value included in the Twitter API's 'retweeted_status' field.

Temporal Coverage
  • 2017-01-01 / 2017-12-31
    Time Period: Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2017--Sun Dec 31 00:00:00 EST 2017 (Calendar Year 2017)
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
Sampled Universe
462 Twitter accounts related to the US Congress
  • 447 members of the United States Congress (MCs)
  • 15 accounts associated with (a) former or deceased MCs or (b) campaigns associated with MCs
Data about members of Congress (e.g., party, chamber, gender, birthdate)

Collection Mode
  • other;


Update Metadata: 2020-07-07 | Issue Number: 1 | Registration Date: 2020-07-07

Hemphill, Libby; Schöpke-Gonzalez, Angela M.; Hodge, Caroline; Bredernitz, Chris (2020): Who Did the 115th US Congress Retweet ?. Version: 2. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.