Issa, Duncan Tied in GOP Social Media Contest

House GOP lawmakers are competing to see who has the most engaged online following.

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(Charles Dharapak/AP)
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., right, talks with the committee's ranking Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. on Capitol Hill. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

Republican lawmakers are in the midst of a heated battle for social media dominance, and the annual contest is now down to just four contenders.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are now neck-and-neck in the annual competition, which is modeled after March Madness, to determine who has the biggest and most engaged online following.

Over the past year, Issa has heavily courted the Internet vote, having held "ask me anything" chats on Reddit, drawn more than 100,000 followers on Twitter, and even made "listicles" about why he's worth following online.

[READ: David Axelrod Joins War of Words Between Issa, White House]

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which Issa chairs, has also worked to increase its presence on the Web, including regularly posting videos of its hearings to YouTube and rallying supporters on Facebook to get behind its investigations.

In years past, the GOP's "new media challenge" measured members quantitatively: who had the most Facebook fans, Twitter followers and YouTube subscribers. This year, the challenge took things up a notch.

"This year we really wanted to push offices to focus on engagement techniques - such as shares, retweets and so on," says GOP conference spokesman Nate Hodson. "So the scoring mechanism was reworked to have more weight on really engaging your followings."

[ALSO: The Internet Is Skeptical Of Darrell Issa's New Law To Protect The Web]

Political data analytics firm TrendPo, which runs a fantasy politics site Fanitics.com, is helping the GOP run the competition. Caroline Gangware at Trendpo says the move to measure engagement over raw followers is helping lawmakers "figure out what resonates and what doesn't."

"People are much more likely to say something online than in person ... so we're giving the tools to these individual lawmakers to say: 'you just talked about immigration and got 2k Facebook likes in one day' – it's clearly resonating so keep doing that."

In 2012, Rep. Justin Amash, R-MI, won the new media challenge as a freshman lawmaker in part for his use of Facebook to explain his votes to constituents.

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