Good ‘ol Pew Research. They do some intriguing work sometimes. Today they released “Partisan Conflict and Congressional Outreach,” which analyzed 200,000 press releases and Facebook posts from members of Congress using “methods from the emerging field of computational social science” in order to “quantify how often legislators themselves ‘go negative’ in their outreach to the public.” Here’s the basic finding:
The most moderate Republican expresses disagreement at the same rate as the most extreme Democrat. The average Republican expresses disagreement at about three times the rate of the average Democrat.
But maybe this is all nice, polite disagreement? Nope. Pew categorized negativity as both “disagreement” and “indignant disagreement,” which they helpfully define as “a type of disagreement that also expresses anger, resentment or annoyance.” Republicans expressed indignant disagreement at three times the rate of Democrats. And if we turn our attention to Facebook, there’s a reason for this:
Sadly, this is not broken down by party. I would be (genuinely!) interested in knowing whether indignant disagreement increases Facebook engagement as much among Democrats as Republicans. Something for the next report, I guess.