Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The 10 Most Influential Tweeps in Missouri Politics


There is no perfect formula to any list -- and that's the point, really. The Notebook's 10 most influential Tweeps is meant to drive discussion more than it's designed to dictate it. (Are Missouri conservatives & Republicans more active and effective users of Twitter -- or are there just more of them in the Twitterverse -- and, if so, Why?) Being an elected official held considerable weight, as did the number of followers one has collected. But there are also the immeasurables and intangibles -- the willingness to show some flair, the ability to deepen or widen a debate, the audacity to take some risk. Overall, this list tries to encompass the people in Missouri politics who most heavily influence debate regularly with their Twitter accounts. 2009 will be remembered as the year when Twitter exploded as a powerful tool in politics -- Here's The Notebook's list of the 10 most powerful politicos on Twitter.

1. @clairecmc - The undisputed Queen of Tweet in Missouri is also one of the most influential Twitterers in the country. Sen. Claire McCaskill openly believes the power of Twitter can change politics and is proving her own point by engaging even her most disparaging critics for all the Twitterverse to see. The most fascinating thing is not how often she Tweets, but how viscerally she responds to others inquiries. How many other pols would take the time to lend 140 characters to a faceless, at times, insulting inquiry past midnight? And if this is what she shares, can you imagine what she's holding back? Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, you have to admire the window she's provided into her life. Whether it's being a proud mom (Lily all packed, ready to go to ballet camp in Vermont), trashing talking sports (Why is it so much fun to beat the Cubbies?) or admitting a flaw (Guess all the criticism gets under my skin sometimes. It shouldn't, sorry) -- McCaskill's messages are allowing fans, foes and those in between to learn more about their junior U.S. Senator than any other pol in Missouri.

2. @tonymess - Anyone who cares about the sausage-making legislative process in Jefferson City knows that Tony Messenger's Tweet-by-Tweet of the action is indispensable reading. His late-night tweets (along with @ChadLivengood -- see below) for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch during the final stretch of the session managed to capture all the blood, sweat, tears, exhaustion, lunacy and hilarity of the waning hours. Tony even created potential drinking games for filibusters. Plus, follow Messenger and you'll always know the Rockies score. But, be warned, you'll have to put up with updates of that foreign sport, some refer to as "soccer".

3. @ChadLivengood - He may not admit it, but the Springfield News Leader's state capitol reporter was once upon a time a bit of a Twitter skeptic. But amid covering his first legislative session, Chad Livengood quickly began cranking out the Tweets and building up his list of followers. Like @tonymess, Livengood's Jefferson City updates became invaluable to politicos, citizens and even reporters like me who didn't have the wherewithal to sit through it all ourselves. At times, Livengood and Messenger would (seemingly in tandem) Tweet questions and answers back and forth to each other from the House and Senate -- producing live give-and-take reporting and analysis that fueled conversation and shaped the legislative debate. In addition to keeping tabs on the political action in the Show-Me state, Livengood sprinkles in a good amount of Tweets about his old reporting stomping ground in Michigan and the waning state of print journalism. Because of geography and followers, Tony gets a slight edge over Chad in Tweet power -- but only by a twit.

4. @DLoesch - Her bio says it all: Mother, blogger, talk radio host, smart aleck. And all those traits are reflected in the tweets produced by Dana Loesch. The conservative radio host writes tweets that punch with personality and she's steadily approaching the 7,000 followers mark. But she's also got purpose. She uses her St. Louis based sounding board to rail against the left and President Obama's agenda. But more specifically, she's got her eye on Rep. Russ Carnahan and Sen. Claire McCaskill. (
Carnahan just fibbed: http://bit.ly/2ceEMn . It adds over $200b to the deficit, she Tweeted on July 20th.) Still, the real charm is the seamless balance Loesch demonstrates between Tweeting the personal and political. A recent fav: JEEBUS. Sorry pizza guy that my son answered the door with no pants on! So glad you weren't a pervert! If you can learn something and laugh, that's a worthy follow.

5. @JakeWagman - At times, one might think Jake Wagman picked the wrong beat. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch political reporter is full of Cardinal stats, play-by-play and commentary. Sure, his Tweets are filled with the latest campaign and political news for the state's most influential paper -- but Wagman always finds time to pepper in the question or comment of the moment on the Cards, the NFL season or other sports trivia. A sample: Who will start in left field tonight? Don't rule out Joe Thurston, though Ank was 2-5 against Moehler last year with a dinger . . . to . . . Scratch that -- game called, Cards win. Does this count as a complete game for Wainwright? We're hoping for more mixed political-sports metaphors are in his Tweeting future.

6. @PeterKinder - As speculation grows over the Lieutenant Governor's 2012 plans, his Twitter account will draw more eyeballs and scrutiny. There's no lack of passion in Peter Kinder's Tweets: Sebelius: EVERYONE will pay for abortion coverage. Take that, all us pro-life Missourians! He also enjoys striking the Caps Lock key: "THAT'S MSNBC FOR YOU" But strikingly, he's rarely used the platform to directly engage his rival, Gov. Jay Nixon (That's left to Chief of Staff @RichAuBuchon and Communications Director @gmcelyea). Instead, Kinder has focused his attention on national affairs, like President Obama's popularity and the healthcare debate. Some GOPers privately believe Kinder should suspend his Twitter account if he wants to be taken seriously. His "I was first the Tweet it" over a false alarm hostage scare in Jefferson City earned him considerable flack from his critics -- and prompted some telling deletions from his feed. The incident exemplified how Twitter can be used as a political tool but also as a self-inflicted dagger. In 2006, it was the Macaca moment on YouTube that sent Sen. George Allen packing. In 2010 or 2012, could Twitter similarly bury a candidate that's too quick to Tweet?

7. @RoyBlunt - It's unclear how much of the Ozarks Congressman's Tweeting is done by himself as opposed to aides, and many of the messages are formulaic and predictable. But Roy Blunt showed he can drive some news through the Twitterverse. His recent Tweet of a Charlie Cook prediction of a 2010 U.S. Senate campaign win drew attention and debate. And @RobinCarnahan's initial diss of Twitter has helped him build a healthy lead in followers over the Secretary of State. Both accounts will be mandatory viewing for politicos throughout 2010, but Blunt's camp seems a bit more comfortable and aggressive in Tweetland.

8. @MayorSlay - The mayor of St. Louis uses his characters less to drive political debate and more to inform the Twitterverse about events, trends and developments in the city under the arch: El Monstero plays their second night at The Pageant tonight. Francis Slay's Tweets are normally short, direct and helpful -- especially if you're an out of towner. But they also exude the calm command of a leader in charge and in touch, with slices of humor: Mayoral rules for office parties: try every dish, smile, don't wear a Santa hat for the picture. Next step, wearing the hat and having the chutzpah to Twitpic it.

9. @JolieJustus -As far as progressives go, this Kansas City State Senator is one of the leaders in the Twitterworld. Jolie Justus' messages are lively, consistent and her personality easily shines through the computer screen. She also varies her Tweet topics, which is important in order to lure followers outside the political realm. She'll dive into current events: "While MO newspapers have suffered massive layoffs, I heard an radio story this wkd that quoted the NYT "scent" editor. Must be nice." And have a little fun with (can you believe it) a Governor from her own party?!: Dear Gov, why do you hate turkeys? Even Palin pardoned a turkey. RT@Missourinet No pardon for Missouri's turkeys. For lawmakers who want to boost followers, they should keep an eye on the Justus model.

10. @Ed4Congress - More than any other candidate in Missouri, Gov. Matt Blunt's former chief of staff Ed Martin has build a significant portion of a Congressional campaign around Twitter. He's one of the state's most prolific Tweeps -- and some would argue he's an example of someone who Tweets too much. But persistence can pay dividends. Martin's scored close to 1,900 followers with just over 3,100 Tweets -- a pretty good ratio. There's no evidence all the typing will aid his bid against @RepCarnahan, but Martin certainly sees Twitter as a top campaign tool.

If There Were 20 (in no particular order):
Honorable mentions -- @Mommentator, @FiredUpMissouri, @ReneeHulshof, @MoRecord, @jrosenbaum, @johncombest, @shanamarchio, @senjasoncrowell, @KrisKetz, @AFPMissouri

Who'd I miss?
What did I get wrong?

Leave your own list in the comment sections.


St. Louis Oracle said...

I agree that MO is lacking in interesting progressive tweeps. (I myself (@stloracle) only tweet to announce a new blogpost or lament a notable progressive death.) The interesting progressive tweeps are national.

A couple MO progressive tweeps I would recommend are @UrbanReviewSTL and @ecoabsence (but must get consent to see locked tweets).

I disagree about the inclusion of @johncombest. While his blogsite is a daily must-read, his tweets are infrequent, personal and unrelated to his site.

Other intruiging conservative tweeps include @24thstate (freelance investigator finds tomorrow's Democrat scandals today for a lazy press), @gatewaypundit (St Louis blogger with a national reputation) and @Michelle_Moore (a Dana Loesch protege).

Josh said...

what about @marcusbowen? He's all about MO politics - and he's a big thing on the internet!

Busplunge said...

"Martin's scored close to 1,900 followers with just over 3,100 Tweets -- a pretty good ratio. There's no evidence all the typing will aid his bid against @RepCarnahan"

How many of those followers drink Bud?

Carnahan received over 202,000 votes in 2008 to his opponent's 95,000.

The 3rd is as much a democratic district as the 7th is a republican district.

Tweet, Tweet!