Politicians who get Twitter...and some who don't

Do you want to find the most interesting Republicans and Democrats on Twitter? We'll tell you what they tweet about and whether they're worth following.

Politicians are flocking to Twitter. Whether they're Democrats or Republicans, they're finding new ways to talk to their constituents. I've found 20 politicians who are using the micro-blog to communicate their policies. Some are more active -- and more interesting -- than others. Here's the rundown:

Democrats

Barack Obama
President Obama started the political Twitter craze. BarackObama.com

Barack Obama If it weren't for this President, most politicians probably wouldn't be on Twitter. He made the service appealing to politicians by showing them that it's a great way to establish a grassroots campaign. Currently, he has staffers tweeting for him, mostly discussing his policies in office. It's an informative Twitter stream. See also the White House on Twitter.

Barbara Boxer Barbara Boxer, a U.S. senator from California, is quite active on Twitter. But she has her staff update her Twitter stream, only diving in personally form time to time. Her tweets mostly discuss where she will be appearing, so it's not too informative.

Chris Dodd Sen. Chris Dodd's Twitter account is a little sneaky: the tweets sound like Dodd is updating his stream, but if you dig a little deeper, it turns out that his Twitter account is for his "office." So, it's not really Dodd updating his stream even though his staff makes it sound that way. Regardless, they're interesting tweets. You'll gain insight into the Senate proceedings, see where he stands on issues, and find some interesting political links. Dodd's Twitter account is worth following.

Dick Durbin Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin is on Twitter. He has 99 followers. There's just one issue: he's never updated his Twitter stream. I find it appalling that such an important figure in U.S. politics can create a Twitter profile and not update it. Don't follow Durbin.

Russ Feingold Senator Russ Feingold from Wisconsin is on Twitter. But unlike some of his colleagues (I'm looking at you, Durbin), he knows how to capitalize on the micro-blog. His tweets are divvied into two parts: those written by staff and those written by Feingold himself. Staff updates are usually links to statements he has made. Feingold's updates are personal thoughts about the country. Those are the most informative. His Twitter stream is updated about once a week, which isn't ideal, but it's still worth checking out.

Dennis Kucinich A 2008 Presidential hopeful and Ohio Congressman, Dennis Kucinich has Twitter account filled with mentions of his appearances on various television shows. It also has a few tweets asking followers to vote for a dancer in Ohio. But his stream isn't updated often (he hasn't tweeted in over a month). Not worth following.

Claire McCaskill Sen. Claire McCaskill is one of the most active Twitter users in this roundup. She replies to many of her followers' queries. Most of her tweets discuss important topics impacting people around the country -- not just in her home state of Missouri. I like following Senator McCaskill.

George Miller George Miller is a congressman from California. Unlike many other politicians who leave Twitter to their staff, Miller tweets himself. He doesn't update his stream too often (we haven't heard from him since April 22), but when he does, it's an interesting discourse. He asks his constituents to call his office, answers many of their questions, and gives you insider information into what's happening on the House floor. His tweets are worth following.

Bill Nelson Sen. Bill Nelson updates his Twitter stream often with interesting tidbits about his life. Sometimes, he'll talk about what he's advocating on the Senate floor. Other times, he'll discuss something about his home state of Florida. If you're from the Sunshine State, you should follow Sen. Nelson.

Joe Sestak A retired Navy Admiral, Joe Sestak is now a congressman from Pennsylvania. His Twitter stream is basically a list of links to his speeches or television interviews. He doesn't provide much insight into the life of Congress-people. And he fails to state where he stands on most issues. It's not worth following his stream.

Republicans

John Boehner Rep. John Boehner uses his Twitter stream to play politics. He frequently uses the Democrats' statements to support his side of the debate. His stream includes a variety of links to news sources on topics impacting the entire country. It's an interesting stream, worth following.

John Boozman John Boozman is the perfect Twitter politician. He updates his stream frequently. And more often than not, those tweets are applicable to any U.S. citizen, and not just those in his home state of Virginia. He often discusses what's happening on the House floor. He's one of the first politicians you should start following.

Eric Cantor Congressman Eric Cantor is the minority whip in Congress. His Twitter stream is fascinating. It's updated often, he replies to followers almost every day, and he provides some real insider information into what's going on in the House. If you want to see where he stands on issues, his Twitter stream features that too. I was really impressed with Cantor's Twitter page. It's worth following.

Jim DeMint Jim DeMint is a South Carolina senator. His Twitter stream is a waste of your time. It includes a slew of videos and links to DeMint documentation that you won't care about. Every now and then, he'll update the stream with a few comments about what he has done, but he doesn't provide real insight into politics. Don't follow Sen. DeMint.

Orrin Hatch Senator Orrin Hatch's Twitter stream is filled with a variety of links to TV segments he has done, radio spots he has recorded, and speeches he has recited. Sometimes he'll update the stream with a statement, but he rarely responds to followers. And his overabundant use of the #tcot (Top Conservatives On Twitter) hashtag annoys me. I don't follow him.

John McCain Though he lost his Presidential campaign and closed that Twitter account, Senator McCain is back on Twitter with his senatorial stream. It's a fascinating page with updates on McCain's politics, why he feels a certain way about different issues, and more. Even better, he updates it himself. He's one of the most active politicians on Twitter. Definitely follow Sen. McCain.

Kevin McCarthy Kevin McCarthy is the deputy Republican Whip in the House of Representatives. Many of his tweets have some impact on his district in California, but he also delves into national politics at times. He updates his own stream, which provides some insight into his life. It's an interesting page, but it won't provide you with real political discussions.

Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin is on Twitter. Twitter

Sarah Palin Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin joined Twitter last week. So far, she has updated her stream with tweets about what's she doing with the family, issues facing Alaskans, and the occasional Democrat insult. Worth following.

Ron Paul Congressman Ron Paul made a name for himself in the last Presidential election, but if he wants to keep that appeal going, changing his Twitter stream is in order. His profile is rarely updated. When it is, it's filled with updates on where he's going to speak and where he has already been. Following Rep. Paul isn't worth it.

Rob Wittman Congressman Rob Wittman's Twitter stream is focused mainly on topics impacting his constituents in Virginia. Because of that, there isn't much that will appeal to the rest of the country. He does get bonus points for updating his stream himself. But it's not enough to make it worthwhile for people outside his district follow him.

See also: Congressman twitters secret trip to Iraq

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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