For years now, Twitter has been an important platform for disseminating news and sharing opinions about U.S. politics, and 22% of U.S. adults say they use the platform. But the Twitter conversation about national politics among U.S. adult users is driven by a small number of prolific political tweeters. These users make up just 6% of all U.S. adults with public accounts on the site, but they account for 73% of tweets from American adults that mention national politics.

The most prolific political tweeters make up a small share of all U.S. adults on Twitter with public accountsMost U.S. adults on Twitter largely avoid the topic: The median user never tweeted about national politics, while 69% only tweeted about it once or not at all. Across all tweets from U.S. adults, just 13% focused on national politics, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis based on public tweets that were posted between June 2018 and June 2019.

The Center defined political tweeters – 31% of all U.S. adult users with public accounts – as those who had tweeted at least five times, and at least twice about national politics, over the study period. But within this broader group, there is a subset of highly prolific political tweeters who created 10 or more tweets between June 10, 2018, and June 9, 2019, with at least 25% of them mentioning national politics.

Prolific political tweeters have several distinct characteristics when compared with other U.S. adults on the platform:

Prolific political tweeters report more civic engagement and appear more politically polarizedProlific political tweeters are especially likely to engage in civic activities. In the year prior to the survey (a time period that includes the 2018 midterm election), 34% of this group reported attending a political rally or event, while 57% said they contacted an elected official and 38% said they contributed money to a political campaign. Other types of Twitter users – including those who tweet about national politics but do so relatively infrequently – are much less likely engage in these activities.

They also pay closer attention to the news: 92% say they follow the news most of the time, whether or not something important is happening. Among those who tweet about politics less frequently, 58% say the same; the share is 53% for nonpolitical tweeters.

These tweeters are more polarized in terms of their ideological self-identification than those who tweet about the topic less often. Some 55% of prolific political tweeters identify as very liberal or very conservative, based on an 11-point measure of ideology where scores of 0 (most conservative) to 2 are defined as very conservative, and scores on the other end of the scale (8-10) are defined as very liberal. Among nonpolitical tweeters, 28% choose these more polarized options.

They also are more likely than other U.S. adult tweeters to give very cold ratings to members of the opposite party: 64% of prolific political tweeters rate those in the other party very coldly, compared with about half of less prolific political tweeters.

Note: See full topline results for this post and methodology for the complete survey.

Adam Hughes  is associate director of Data Labs at Pew Research Center.