Social Media and Political Extremism

I’ve been writing about how the communications revolution is one significant factor fueling polarization, the rise of free-agent politicians, and the difficulty of putting together effective political majorities that can legislate. This new data from Axios (which takes it from NewsWhip) highlights the types of elected officials who generate the most social-media attention. Keep in mind how this also affects fundraising, including the role of small donors in fueling the ideological poles:

From the Axios story:

New data finds that the nation’s most polarizing politicians are often the ones that garner the most attention online.

Why it matters: Online engagement helps politicians build a bigger national profile and more fundraising power, incentivizing them to be more outrageous, more polarizing and more divisive.

By the numbers: Topping the list are lightning rods from each party — politicians who fire up their base while providing ammunition for the other party — according to exclusive data from NewsWhip.

The big picture: The data supports a broader trend of American politics becoming a breeding ground for more extreme politicians to run — and sometimes win — elections.
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