If Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., weathers cocaine-gate, he could return to the House of Representatives a more potent force on the Internet. That's because the mini-scandal, in which the congressman acknowledged possessing cocaine and then promptly took a leave of absence from the House, made him a household name, seriously boosting his standing online.
TrendPo, a D.C. startup that measures online buzz, charted Radel's rise from political obscurity to being one of the House's most prominent members in one week's time.
The story broke late in the day on Nov. 19 and by Nov. 21, slightly more than 24 hours into the news cycle, Radel's prominence on the TrendPo rankings jumped from the 800s to 212. Now he's No. 58 in prominence among the presidents, members of congress, mayors, state legislators, pundits, media figures and issues that the rankings sort. In the House of Representatives, Radel has moved to No. 4, behind only Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
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TrendPo's algorithm uses news hits and social media performance to determine a politician's rank. It doesn't account for the fact that some "buzz" could be negative.
Now, of course, once Radel is out of the news, his rank might end up being back closer to Rep. Paul Ryan's, R-Wis. (Ryan's at a measly 905.) But, looking on the bright side, Radel will most likely retain his new Twitter followers and any likes he gained on Facebook.