Social Media vs. Surveys: A New Scalable Approach to Understanding Legislators’ Discourse


This paper explores how legislators use social media, specifically investigating whether their postsreflect the concerns expressed by their legislative party peers in an anonymous survey. Utilizing datafrom Twitter, we compare legislators’ social media posts with their responses in PELA, a survey ofparliamentary elites in Latin America. We propose a novel, and scalable method for analyzing politicalcommunications, employing OpenAI for topic identification in statements and BERTopic analysis toidentify clusters of political communication. This approach enables a thorough and detailed examinationof these topics over time and across political parties. Applying our method to statements made bymembers of the Chilean Congress, we observe a general alignment between the preferences stated insurveys by elites and the prominence of these issues on Twitter. This result validates Twitter as a tool forpredicting politicians’ preferences. Our methodological approach enhances our understanding of politicalcommunication and strategy, offering valuable tools for analyzing political rhetoric over time

José Incio
José Incio
Ph.D in Political Science

My research interests include democratic backsliding, subnational politics, methodology.