Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Politics and International Relations
Prof. Thomas Kim
Prof. Rachel VanSickle-Ward
© 2019 Jenna F Lewinstein
The purpose of “Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez: A Case Study of Social Media as an Agenda Setting Tool in the U.S. House of Representatives” is to explore the impact of a politician’s social media presence on agenda setting in Congress. It was born out of the research question, “how do freshman members of the House of Representatives seek power and influence in their first term?” I answer this using Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a case study, as she is a current freshman legislator with undeniable power and influence. I studied Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s tweets from two time periods: the month leading up to her election and her second month in office. I categorized and counted each tweet into 4 categories that yielded quantifiable results. Subsequently, I did a textual analysis of certain tweets from the two periods and explained their relevance to her shift in content and success as a public figure. I found that since being elected, the proportion of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez tweets about National issues increased by four times more than during her primary. Additionally, after being elected, her tweets about her District were proportionally one-fourth of they were during her primary campaign. I interpret this finding as Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s efforts to influence the national agenda, a task rarely taken on by a freshman Representative. I also found that she had nearly doubled the proportion of tweets that fall under the Extraneous category, utilizing personal anecdotes, inspirational messages, feminist actions and insights, and calls for progressive leadership that connect with her audience and set her apart from strictly policy-oriented politician Twitter accounts. Altogether, I have analyzed Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter presence and believe it to be a key element of her success in agenda setting as a freshman Congress member.
Lewinstein, Jenna Floricel, "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: A Case Study of Social Media as an Agenda Setting Tool in the U.S. House of Representatives" (2019). Scripps Senior Theses. 1336.