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How two #SCOTUS decisions, and two social reactions, demonstrate the end of political debate on same sex marriage

There have been few weeks more momentous than last week in the Supreme Court, with the Affordable Care Act upheld and the right to equal marriage affirmed.

The issues at task in King v. Burwell and Obergefell v. Hodges have both driven a substantial portion of political debate in recent election cycles. Tracking the response to these two pivotal decisions from Democrat and Republican Members of Congress on Twitter – using a new tool called Zoomph we’ve been demoing this week – indicates that while the Affordable Care Act will remain a point of debate among politicians, Republicans are no longer willing to engage on the question of Gay Marriage.

The graph below shows the volume of tweets from members of the House and Senate for both parties on June 25th, the day of the Affordable Care Act ruling (Democrats in blue and Republicans in yellow).

Volume of Tweets from members of the House and Senate for both parties

From this we can see that both parties are equally wiling to engage on the issues around healthcare: sharing opinions and reaction, celebrating and commiserating, and all in front of their supporters online. Below are some examples from both sides of the political divide.

Contrast this with the volume of tweets from the two groups on the day of the equal marriage decision (shown below).

Volume of Tweets from members of the House and Senate for both parties - marriage equality

There is a huge spike from Democrat electeds at the time of the announcement – and from the Republicans, a remarkable lack of activity. Over the course of the day there were 754 tweets from Democratic Members of Congress, almost double their Republican colleagues who tweeted 454 times (of these only a paltry 45 tweets even mentioned “marriage”).

Not only were Republican’s talking less than Democrats, but those who were are not from the party’s mainstream. The total reach of Republican tweets was 29 million, meaning that the average audience for each of the 454 tweets was approximately 65,000 users. Compare this with tweets on the day of the ACA decision, which had an average audience of around 90,000 users each, showing that Republicans with larger social followings were especially silent on Friday.

The indication is clear, that while the President may have declared that the Affordable Care Act is “here to stay,” it is instead same sex marriage that has quietly left the field of political debate.

 

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