Jun 17 11:30 AM

Election 2014: Tracking opinion and policy with Twitter bots

You know what they say about opinions, don’t you? Yes, everybody’s got one, but in this midterm election year, some of those opinions just might affect the future.

To that end, we here @AJAM wanted to give our users an easy-to-use tool to keep up with what those running for public office are thinking about some of the issues that could cross paths with our private lives — something easy to read and easy to integrate with existing online tools.

So, without further delay, we give you AJAM Election Bots — Twitter bots that allow you to see what people are saying about issues you follow.

We've made three bots so far (with more on the way): @ajamEnergyBot, @ajamImmgratnBot and @ajamPotBot.

Energy Bot, which retweets candidates when they discuss coal, oil and nuclear, as well as alternative sources like solar power, geothermal and wind. It also follows related environmental conversations around clean air, biodiversity and climate change. Other terms, as they become active, can be added. For instance, the new greenhouse gas emissions standards proposed by the Obama administration earlier this month generated a great deal of tweet heat.

For immigration, we've been following the conversation on the #CIR hashtag — CIR stands for "comprehensive immigration reform" — which draws the attention of the left side of the aisle. On the conservative side, terms like "secure our border" are dominating the conversation.

Despite the, uh, high profile, of pot on many 2014 ballots, candidates don't seem to be talking about it much on Twitter. Whether that’s avoidance or acceptance remains to be seen, but keep an eye on the @ajamPotBot to track the debate as it changes.

The bots work by following our Twitter list of 800-plus candidates we found running for office this year. Each bot has a list of keywords related to its topic, and if it spots a tweet from the candidate list using one of those words, it retweets it. Here's the code behind it, and you can read the full list of terms for each bot below, or follow the link in each bot’s Twitter bio for the most updated list.

We have plans for other bots, but we'd love to hear from you! Is there a topic you want tracked? Did we miss someone that should be included on our list? Did a bot retweet something it shouldn't have or are there terms we should include? Let us know! Send an email to michael.keller@aljazeera.net.

Bookmark this post to keep track of new bots, or follow our AJAM Election Bots Twitter list.

List of terms


sustainability, solar, Solyndra, #agw, biodiesel, biodiversity, bioenergy, biomass, biopower, clean air, cleaner air, cleanair, cleanenergy, natural gas, hydropower, hydroelectric, nuclear energy, foreign oil,  emissions , energy innovation, geothermal, fuel efficiency, clean energy, natural resources,  coal , climate change, global warming, eco-friendly, ecofriendly, ethanol, fracking, globalwarming, #green, #greenjobs, green jobs,  methane , #smartgrid, smart grid, #tcktcktck , wind energy, wind power, windenergy, windpower, #recycle, energy subsidies, energy policy, energy plan, keystone, energy pipeline, oil pipeline, bituminous, tar sands, oil sands, oil well, deep water horizon, oil spill


immigrant, dream act, amnesty, immigration, secure our border, secure the border, border control, border security, #SB1070, #cirasap, #cir, #ri4a, DREAMact, TNTweeters, Path2Citizenship, path to citizenship, CitizenshipMatters, citizenship matters, #StopICE


marijuana, cannabis,  weed but not "weed out", smoking pot, smoke pot, smoked pot, legalize pot, mariguana, marihuana, legalizeit

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