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On Musk’s Twitter, Republicans outpace Democrats in race for followers

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Is Twitter getting more conservative under Elon Musk?

Just ask Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

GOP members of Congress gained hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers since Musk took over the social media platform a month ago while Democrats sustained steep declines numbering in the tens of thousands, according to a USA TODAY analysis of the official congressional accounts for members of the House and Senate.

The biggest winner? Greene, who picked up 399,200 followers. The biggest loser? Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, who lost 145,064 followers.

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Eight Republican accounts picked up more than 100,000 followers, the analysis found.

The accounts that added the most followers included Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan (338,374), Texas Senator Ted Cruz (229,644) and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (222,764).

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington on Nov. 17, 2022.

Five accounts on the other side of the aisle – four Democrats and Sanders – lost at least 50,000 followers. Those who shed the most included Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (-141,364), California Rep. Adam Schiff, (-84,061), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (-61,174), and California Rep. Maxine Waters (-54,240). 

On average, official accounts for Republican lawmakers gained 9,134 followers and accounts for Democrats lost 3,908 followers. USA TODAY analyzed data gathered from Twitter on Oct. 28 and Nov. 28, 2022. 

Follower counts can fluctuate for a variety of reasons, most commonly when Twitter purges bot accounts. But the current pattern suggests that conservatives are flocking to Twitter while liberals are leaving, continuing a trend that began in April when Musk first announced his intention to buy Twitter.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) walks through the Senate subway after a procedural vote on the Respect For Marriage Act at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 28 in Washington, DC.

Is Musk’s ownership shifting Twitter’s political demographics?

Conservatives for years accused Twitter and other major social media platforms of censoring their viewpoints. They publicly celebrated Musk’s Twitter takeover and applauded his stated commitment to freer expression.

Liberal lawmakers, on the other hand, have voiced anguish over changes Twitter’s new owner is making including firing content moderators and bringing back accounts suspended for violating Twitter’s rules, including that of former president Donald Trump.

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