How Can Politicians Get Retweeted?

My colleagues Elizabeth Jones, Cameron Randall, Nicole White, and I analyzed tweets from United States Senators to determine what caused some political tweets to be heavily retweeted while others fell flat. We collected tweets with the Twitter API using Tweepy in Python, and then built a predictive model to classify tweets as either a hit (top 10% of tweets by retweet count) or a miss (everything else). This analysis allowed us to rank the attributes of a tweet by usefulness--how much that attribute mattered when classifying a tweet as a hit or miss:

This analysis showed us that when it comes to getting your tweets retweeted, it does not matter who you are (unless you are Ted Cruz). What often matters are simple choices a politician has control of. For example, this shows the association between time of day and a tweet being a hit:

The time is in UTC, and shows a spike at evening on the east coast.

More graphs (including sentiment with SentiStrength) can be seen in the presentation. A more detailed explanation is available in the presentation's notes.