How Constituents Lobby Members of Congress on Twitter

15 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2013

See all articles by Andrew Roback

Andrew Roback

Illinois Institute of Technology

Libby Hemphill

University of Michigan

Date Written: 2013


Political speech occurs on social media with increasing frequency and attention. We present a large-scale analysis of a specific type of political speech - citizens lobbying elected officials - and explain how citizens use varied and complex rhetorical and linguistic strategies to effect political outcomes through social media. We collected over 30,000 tweets aimed at members of the U.S. Congress and containing hashtags that refer to legislation about immigration, the federal budget, internet freedom, and gun control. Using Aristotelian notions of deliberative rhetoric and recent developments in speech-act theory to frame our discussion, we analyze various lobbying strategies evident in tweets. We also discuss the use of automated text classification algorithms for classifying political speech in social media.

Keywords: Twitter, Congress, automated text classification, machine learning, rhetoric, linguistics, speech acts

Suggested Citation

Roback, Andrew and Hemphill, Libby, How Constituents Lobby Members of Congress on Twitter (2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper, American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting, Available at SSRN:

Andrew Roback (Contact Author)

Illinois Institute of Technology ( email )

No Address Available

Libby Hemphill

University of Michigan ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

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