Research ArticleCORONAVIRUS

Elusive consensus: Polarization in elite communication on the COVID-19 pandemic

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Science Advances  10 Jul 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 28, eabc2717
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc2717
  • Fig. 1 Cumulative tweet count and absolute difference in the proportions of words used by party.

    Plot (A) shows the cumulative count of deaths (9) and COVID-19–related tweets by party over time. Notably, Congressional Democrats discussed COVID-19 significantly more during the crisis. Plot (B) shows the 15 largest absolute differences in words most frequently used by Democrats and Republicans. Compared to Democrats, Republicans more frequently discuss China and business interests and frame the pandemic as a war, while Democrats discuss public health and aid to workers.

  • Fig. 2 Classification accuracy, partisan COVID-19 language by roll call voting, and recall above no-information rate.

    Plot (A) k-fold prediction out of sample by week. Classification accuracy increases over time. This suggests that Democratic and Republican members of Congress are becoming more polarized over time. Plot (B) shows the increases of political ideology of members of Congress by the median predicted probability of their test set tweets being authored by a Republican. Plot (C) shows rates of recall (recovery of true cases) by party. The lower bound is the naive probability of correctly classifying a Republican or Democratic member as such based solely on prevalence in the test sets, the upper bound displays the observed rate of recall, and the shaded area represents the increase in recall above the no-information rate.

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary Materials

    Elusive consensus: Polarization in elite communication on the COVID-19 pandemic

    Jon Green, Jared Edgerton, Daniel Naftel, Kelsey Shoub, and Skyler J. Cranmer

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    This PDF file includes:

    • Collection of tweets by members of Congress
    • Data
    • Classification
    • Alternative specifications
    • Important Tokens
    • Tables S1 and S2
    • Figs. S1 to S6

    Files in this Data Supplement:

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