Twitter Influencers in the 2016 US Congressional Races

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In this paper, I outline a method for collecting Twitter data to identify two types of political actors that are increasingly prominent in social media environments: influential politicians and politicized influencers. Influential politicians are those whose messages are readily retweeted (i.e., shared) while politicized influencers are users who retweet politicians’ messages and who themselves receive many retweets. I find that highly retweeted politicized influencers tend not to have formal political affiliations, and so are politically influential but not in an official political capacity. I then relate the Twitter data to electoral outcomes of the 2016 US congressional races. I find that, for richer candidates and incumbents, receiving many retweets is associated with higher vote percentages while, for poorer candidates and challengers, receiving retweets from highly retweeted users is associated with higher vote percentages. Better-off candidates should thus strive to be influential politicians, whereas worse-off candidates should aim to get retweeted by influential users. I argue that the rise of social media begs for a study of what we might call influencer politics, which allows for new empirical investigations into the role that social media play in shaping the democratic process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-40
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Political Marketing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • campaign strategy
  • celebrity politics
  • everyday makers
  • influencer politics
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Marketing


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