Over the summer, while the Kansas Legislature wasn't in session, I started mining the hashtag for Kansas political matters (#ksleg). It's quite a bit of fun to follow the people who tweet about politics in my home state, and I came up with pseudo-sarcastic power ranking of the tweeters. More seriously, because I don't follow the news every day, I can use topic modeling to determine the important political matter being discussed.
I was worried about my ability to post as often, with starting a new job tomorrow and all, but luckily I have completely automated this entire analysis, and can publish it easily throughout the session.
This analysis was conducted by downloading all tweets using the #ksleg hashtag over the past two weeks. An easy way to get an idea of what people are talking about is a wordlcoud:
The wordcloud points to many issues that will likely dominate this years legislative session, including taxes, schools, kancare (Medicaid), and important players like Brownback and the Koch brothers. An additional tool, topic modeling can point us to some specific concerns:
Here's a topic by topic analysis:
- Topic debating expectations in the upcoming legislative session.
- Topic related to expanding Medicaid in Kansas in relation to the Affordable Care Act.
- Topic on external players in Kansas economic policy, specifically the Koch brother and ALEC, and their relationship to job growth in Kansas.
- Topic relating recent Kansas tax changes to their impact on school funding.
That gives us a good idea of the current topics being discussed. Another final check on this is checking word associations. This shows which words are most disproportionately associated with other terms. I checked three terms, Brownback, tax, and school.
None of this is necessarily unexpected. Brownback is most associated with his economic policies and also the Koch brothers. Taxes are most associated with the increase in sales taxes that disproportionately effects poor and middle class. School is most associated with "finance" and is accused of being an "echo chamber."
And finally our pseudo-sarcastic rankings. Bryan Lowry is a clear winner with the most retweets, and counted tweets, though writing for the newspaper of the State's largest city is a huge advantage.