Reproductive rights was the most viral topic discussed during the 2023 Legislative Session, according to a Twitter data analysis by Moore Public Affairs.
The analysis showed that during the six-week Session, reproductive rights were tweeted about 437 times, earning 16 million impressions.
The issue was perhaps the most controversial in this year’s Session, with lawmakers approving a 6-week abortion ban. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the ban into law in April. It will take effect only if the state’s existing 15-week ban, approved in the last Legislative Session, is upheld by the state Supreme Court.
Education reform followed with 242 tweets and 8 million impressions. That was also a controversial topic, given the Republican-controlled legislature’s approval of an historic school choice bill expanding the state’s voucher program to all students, regardless of family income. DeSantis signed that into law in late March as a top priority.
Other top trending topics from Florida’s Legislative Session included transgender health care, with 228 tweets and 6.7 million impressions; Reedy Creek (Disney) with 131 tweets and 5.8 million impressions; and insurance reform with 129 tweets and 5.1 million impressions.
The analysis also included top-five Twitter activity among Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani was by far the lawmaker with the most social media activity and reach, with 1,037 tweets, creating a whopping 93 million impressions. No other lawmaker even came close.
Sen. Shevrin Jones, also a Democrat, followed with 6.8 million impressions over 196 total tweets. Democratic Rep. Angie Nixon followed with 5 million impressions over 273 tweets. Republican Alex Andrade followed as the top-trending Republican lawmaker, with 748 tweets and 4.2 million impressions.
Sen. Lauren Book, the Democratic leader in the upper chamber, tweeted 87 times reaching 2.8 million impressions, while Rep. Ashley Gantt, a Democrat, tweeted 323 times with 2.5 million impressions. Republican Rep. Chip LaMarca tweeted 255 times with 2.2 million impressions.
All of the top-trending Democrats had Twitter impressions into the millions, while Republicans’ top five included three lawmakers who didn’t crack seven figures. Sen. Blaise Ingoglia tweeted 112 times with 790,000 impressions; Rep. Paul Renner tweeted 66 times with 634,000 impressions; and Rep. Randy Fine tweeted 68 times with 602,000 impressions.
Eskamani’s tweets included critiques of various Republican-backed legislation, such as a ban on gender-affirming care for minors, the abortion legislation and banning books.
In early May, as the Session was winding down, Eskamani tweeted a photo of herself signing the Floridians Protecting Freedom petition to put the abortion question to voters through a ballot initiative. It was retweeted 186 times as of Monday, and had nearly 27,000 impressions.
Today I signed @flprotectfree’s petition to get abortion on the ballot and I feel hopeful that my fellow Floridians will help us take back this state from extremists like DeSantis and restore personal freedoms — like the freedom to decide the future of one’s pregnancy. pic.twitter.com/7THoX9S1pm
— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) May 10, 2023
The same day she tweeted photos from a “pop up petition gathering training” for the initiative, which surpassed 10,000 impressions.
In a May 7 tweet, Eskamani criticized Republicans for pursuing anti-transgender legislation while refusing to take action on guns.
“Republican politicians have used inaccurate & sensational rhetoric like ‘mutiliation’ to describe gender affirming care — meanwhile mutilation is exactly what an assault weapon does to a child’s body. I am sick of the distractive culture wars when we have real problems to solve,” she wrote.
Republican politicians have used inaccurate & sensational rhetoric like "mutilation" to describe gender affirming care — meanwhile mutilation is exactly what an assault weapon does to a child's body. I am sick of the distractive culture wars when we have real problems to solve.
— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) May 7, 2023
On the other side of the aisle, Andrade’s tweets were mostly re-tweets of fellow conservatives praising priority legislation. In an April 25th tweet, Andrade shared a video from POLITICO reporter Gary Fineout showing a group of protesters in the Capitol Rotunda chanting “drag is not a crime,” and pondered what they were talking about.
Lawmakers passed a bill (SB 1438) that allows the state to fine, suspend or revoke business licenses — such as food and beverage licenses — of any business that admits children to adult performances. While the bill didn’t specifically mention drag shows, critics have frequently drawn the correlation. It describes lewd conduct that would trigger enforcement as exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts.
Wearing cloths certainly isn’t a crime, and no bill this Session in FL has made it a crime.
TBH, I’m not sure what they could be talking about other than the bill that said you can’t expose your genitalia to kids.
But they couldn’t be talking about THAT bill… right? https://t.co/O8IJ63m0GF
— Alex Andrade (@RAlexAndradeFL) April 26, 2023
He retweeted other videos of the same protest, including one from Rep. Spencer Roach saying the protesters were demanding “children attend drag shows.”
On April 23 he retweeted a video of Pinellas County teacher Brandt Robinson asking people to identify characteristics of fascism, noting that Gov. DeSantis “models several.”
Andrade called it “thinly veiled indoctrination” and speculated Brandt, whose African American history curriculum was unsuccessfully challenged as being tied to critical race theory, is “not trying to equate American politicians with the evils of socialism and communism the same way he is with fascism.”
This is obviously thinly veiled indoctrination. I’m willing to bet he’s not trying to equate American politicians with the evils of socialism and communism the same way he is with fascism. https://t.co/PibhHw0zgl
— Alex Andrade (@RAlexAndradeFL) April 23, 2023
It’s worth noting, a law DeSantis signed in 2021 requires students to learn of the “evils” of communism. Last year he signed a bill into law declaring Nov. 7 “Victims of Communism Day” and requiring students in government classes to get at least 45 minutes of instruction on the, as DeSantis described it at the time, “evils that communism inflicted on people throughout the world.”