Tweet, Tweet Republicans

The results are in, and Republicans like to keep it brief. 140 characters or less, as a matter of fact.

So brief that Republicans now dominate the Twitter universe, far outpacing their Democratic counterparts when it comes to spreading their message on the social networking tool, according to a new report released yesterday by public relations firm Burson-Marsteller.

The report found that eight of the 10 most-followed Twitter accounts in Congress were held by Republicans. Neither of the Democrats’ two leaders in Congress, Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) in the House and Harry Reid (Nev.) in the Senate, even made the top 10.

Topping the list was Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), fresh off the heels of his earlier enthronement as the Senate’s “Social Media Genius” in a separate study by George Washington and New York Universities. That study also found Republicans had attracted 3,000 Twitter followers in July alone, far outpacing Democratic growth.

Joining Sen. McCain in the top 10 on the Burson-Marsteller list were House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Republicans were largely seen as lagging behind in social media throughout 2008 as the social media-friendly presidential campaign of Barack Obama reigned supreme. Lately, however, it’s been Democrats who have been playing catch-up as both sides aim to maximize their digital efforts ahead of what is shaping up to be a tough midterm election season.

The only Democrats to squeek into the top 10 on the latest list were Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri (No. 4) and Barbara Boxer of California (No. 7). Like the GW-NYU study, Burson-Marsteller’s research focused on the number of tweets rather than the quality of their content, perhaps a better indicator of their true social media reach.

“With two months before the general election, Republicans in Congress hold a clear advantage in the Twittersphere,” Dallas Lawrence, Burson-Marsteller’s managing director for digital public affairs, told Politico.

The study found that just 41 percent of Democrats take advantage of Twitter to directly engage other users, compared to 67 percent of Republicans. The minority party was also found to be more prolific at “re-tweeting,” or forwarding messages on to their followers.

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