Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Political Science

Degree Program

Political Science, MA

Committee Chair

Gainous, Jason

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Merry, Melissa

Committee Member

D'Silva, Margaret


Twitter--Political aspects--United States; Social media--Political aspects; Legislators--United States--Computer network resources; Political campaigns--Computer network resources


This paper analyzes the use of the Twitter use of all House of Representative members in the 111th Congress. The data used is a secondary dataset originally created by Gainous and Wagner (2014). This paper aims to demonstrate the methods members of Congress to create a public image. In traditional campaign literature, campaign statements are divided into four mutually exclusive categories: positive competitive, negative competitive, substantive, and information dissemination. This paper seeks to add a fifth category to the discussion, the presentation of self. The presentation of self is not a traditional form of campaigning. Rather, it is the strategy used to maximize the personal vote. This paper investigates the degree to which Members of Congress use Twitter for these quasi-campaigning reputation building exercises, and seeks to find ways to predict the circumstances that cause Members of Congress to use Twitter for traditional campaigning purposes, and which circumstances cause members of Congress to use Twitter for the presentation of self. For simplicity, this paper simplifies the four aforementioned campaign strategies into three, combining information dissemination and substantive messaging and calling this traditional campaigning. This paper considers, age, gender, geographic region, district competitiveness, experience and salience as explanatory variables. This paper finds candidates use Twitter significantly more for negative competitive messaging when the candidate is unsafe in their reelection outcome and when their tweets reach a larger audience. Further, this paper finds that candidates use traditional campaigning significantly more when their tweets reach a large audience.