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John McCain Is Senate's Foremost 'Twitter Genius,' Study Finds

John McCain, Twitter Genius
He may be older than dust, but, make no mistake about it, John McCain is a certified "Twitter Genius." According to a recent study (PDF) conducted by researchers from George Washington University and New York University, the 73-year-old Arizona Senator ranks at the very top of the U.S. Senate's "Twitter Geniuses." The academics came to their conclusion after calculating every Senator's "Digital IQ," which they modestly call the "definitive benchmark for online competence." As Politico explains, the metric combines a politician's use of social media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as his or her online following.

Out of all 100 active Senators, only seven scored a "genius" level Digital IQ, with McCain, of course, coming out as the clear winner. His 625,000 Facebook fans nearly triple the number of people following runner-up Scott Brown, and is about 8.5 times greater than third-place finisher John Thune's total.

McCain, moreover, isn't the only Republican making serious noise on the Web. While Barack Obama's 2008 campaign may have laid down the blueprint for how to use social media for political gain, increasing numbers of Republicans have latched onto the medium -- and their online presence is quickly growing. Although they comprise a Senate minority, GOP lawmakers managed to pick up 3,000 more Twitter followers than their Democratic counterparts during the month of July, along with 20,000 more Facebook "likes." And, of the seven anointed "geniuses," a slight majority of four were Republicans.

Granted, it might be a bit hyperbolic to call a compulsive tweeter a "genius." After all, we should never confuse quantity with quality. Absurd nomenclature aside, these findings still stand as proof that more high-level politicians are hopping on the social networking bandwagon -- especially, we'd imagine, with mid-term elections rearing their ugly head. "This study underscores the reality that social media is not a toy, and that digital literacy and agility are powerful tools in today's business and political arenas," said Doug Guthrie, Dean of George Washington University's School of Business."It appears that U.S. senators are making their comprehension of the social media realm a priority and are using it as a way to engage prospective voters and mobilize grass-roots efforts."

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