Identifying and Estimating the Ideologies of Twitter Pundits

By Jon Green (@_Jon_Green)

In the grand scheme of things, the direct effects Twitter has on public opinion are likely quite limited. Twitter claims a relatively modest market share in terms of social media platforms (it is much smaller than Facebook, for instance) and many of its users don't use it for politics. As one influential Twitter user put it, somewhat polemically, in the midst of a debate over Twitter politics in the 2016 primary, nobody is on Twitter.

But while it may generally be the case that, for most intents and purposes, nobody is on Twitter, in a narrower sense everybody is on Twitter. Specifically, everyone who traffics in political news or opinion for a living is more or less professionally obligated to engage with their fellow politicos on the microblogging platform. If we think that what happens among this chattering class is important for politics, and there is some academic research arguing that it is, then it is useful for us to try and get a handle on two things. First, who comprises the population of politically influential Twitter users -- referred to here as "pundits" in a less derogatory sense than the word is generally used? Second, how are these pundits distributed ideologically?

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