The #YangGang Gets Even Stronger

Businessman Andrew Yang saw the biggest follower spike on Twitter during the Democratic Presidential debate. But can the #YangGang help Yang compete with the current front-runners?

For the second debate in a row, businessman Andrew Yang had a strong night on Twitter, gaining the most followers of anyone else on the stage. Yang gained nearly 5,000 followers in the three-hour span, bringing his total follower count to more than 945,000.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) came in second with 4,100 new followers, bringing her total to 3.4 million, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) – who has the most Twitter followers of any Democratic candidate at 9.8 million – nabbed another 2,944 new followers during the debate.

At the bottom of the pack? Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and billionaire Tom Steyer, who gained 765 and 844 new followers, respectively.

Will these spikes in Twitter followers be indicative of post-debate momentum? Only time will tell.


Were Trump’s Ears Burning Last Night?

Once again, President Donald Trump was the most-mentioned person on last night’s debate stage. Mentions of former President Barack Obama dropped significantly from last month, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren appeared to be in the hot seat … or podium.

Much like last month’s debate, President Donald Trump was the most-mentioned individual during Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in Westerville, Ohio.

President Donald Trump was mentioned a total of 67 times by all 12 candidates on the stage. The president was mentioned more than everyone else in the top 10 combined.

After Trump, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), was the second-most discussed person, with a total of 19 mentions by nine different candidates, likely the result of her being seen as a new front-runner.


Who Leads the Polls … and Twitter

As the country digests last night’s Democratic debate, we took a look at how the candidates are performing in the polls … and on Twitter. Spoiler alert: They tell two very different stories.

As the media and pundits discuss who “won” last night’s Democratic debate, we took a look at two voter support metrics: polling and retweets.

From Sept. 1 to Oct. 13, The ScottRasmussen.com/HarrisX poll tracked who registered voters are most likely to vote for in a Democratic primary. We also looked at the candidates’ average number of retweets over the same time period. Spoiler alert: They tell two very different stories.

Former Vice President Biden tops the poll, at 30.08%, but comes in fourth in average retweets (1,935). On the other hand, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) topped the Twitter engagement list with an average of 2,819 retweets per tweet but came in 6th in polling, with just 2.96% of registered voters saying they are most likely to vote for him in the Democratic primary.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was the only candidate to land in the top three in polling and average retweets, nabbing second in both.

Is social media engagement an early indicator of election-day votes? Or, is traditional polling still our best bet for predicting election results? We’ll be watching.


Two Tales of the Democratic Frontrunners

Former Vice President Joe Biden has held on to a comfortable lead in the polls for the last six weeks, but Twitter tells a different story. Could it indicate a changing tide?

As we inch closer to the 2020 Democratic primaries, all eyes have understandably been on the latest polling numbers. But is that the only indicator of how the candidates are performing?

The ScottRasmussen.com/HarrisX poll tracks who registered voters are most likely to vote for in a Democratic primary. From Aug. 1 to Sept. 12, former Vice President Biden nabbed 30.52% of the vote, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at 16.93% and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) at 12.68%.

But Twitter tells a different story. During that same time period, front-runner Biden came in sixth in terms of average retweets, a common metric for social media engagement, with an average of 1,147 retweets per tweet. Meanwhile, Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) topped the Twitter list with an average of 3,433 retweets per tweet but came in middle of the pack (6th) in polling, garnering just 3.23% of the vote.

Taking a look at polling and retweets by rank over time offers another interesting perspective. The top four polling candidates – Biden, Sanders, Warren and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) – have stayed in their respective spots for the last six weeks. However, Twitter appears to catch more of the ebbs and flows of the presidential hopefuls’ popularity.

We’ll be watching to see if Twitter engagement ends up being an early indicator in changes in voter preferences.


What Does Debate Speaking Time Mean for Twitter Follower Growth?

Turns out camera time during the Democratic debate may not translate to popularity growth – at least on Twitter. Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke the most during last Thursday’s debate, but ranked seventh in Twitter follower growth.

We’ve become accustomed to seeing the presidential candidates jockeying for airtime, and the third Democratic debate was no exception. But it turns out camera time may not matter so much when it comes to gaining voter popularity – at least on Twitter.

Front runner former Vice President Joe Biden spoke the most during last Thursday’s debate, with 3,392 words. That’s 609 words more than the next most-talkative candidate, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). However, Biden came in a distant 7th in terms of Twitter follower growth, nabbing just 8,557 new followers since the debate on Sept. 12.

On the other end of the spectrum, businessman Andrew Yang spoke the least during the debate – 50% less than Biden – but managed to nab nearly 40,000 new Twitter followers. Yang’s promise to give 10 families $1,000 a month for a year may have had something to do with his surging popularity online.

Similarly to Yang, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) spoke the second least but had the third highest growth in Twitter followers.


Say My Name, Say My Name

Who merited the most mentions during last week’s presidential debate? The results—which highlight the differences in candidates’ strategic approaches—may surprise you.

There were 10 candidates participating in the Democratic primary debate in Houston, Texas, last Thursday, but the two individuals mentioned most weren’t on stage.

Candidates invoked President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama more than any other individuals, including the entire 2020 Democratic presidential field.

These mentions tell an interesting story about debate strategy. Eight of the 10 candidates mentioned President Trump, with the exception of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). In fact, Sanders didn’t mention Obama either. Instead, he focused on the other candidates on stage, in a marked contrast to his competition.

On the other end of the spectrum, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) mentioned Trump more than any other candidate—a total of 10 times. Occasionally, she even stared directly into the camera to speak to the President.

We’ll be watching to see which of these strategies work for the candidates going forward.


What Twitter Tells Us Going Into This Week’s Debates

Ahead of this week’s Democratic debates, we took a look at how the candidates stack up in terms of their podium placement and Twitter engagement across the two nights of debates.

The second round of Democratic debates, hosted by CNN, are taking place this week. The 20 candidates who qualified were split into two groups – Tuesday and Wednesday nights – and podium placement was determined by public polling numbers.

We took a look at the debate groups and podium placement based on Twitter engagement, i.e. average favorites and retweets, to see how the candidates stack up.

Of the night one candidates, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had the highest Twitter engagement, matching their center stage placement.

However, on night two, former Vice President Joe Biden nabbed one of the two center spots on stage, but he comes in fourth in Twitter engagement, after Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), businessman Andrew Yang and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

Another outlier on night two? Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) will stand at the end of the stage. But his Twitter engagement last week was higher than Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D).

Will Twitter engagement be indicative of debate performance? We’ll be watching.

Tweeter in Chief

Trump vs. Cummings

President Trump found a new Twitter target in Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland. Who won this weekend’s Twitter feud? The answer may surprise you.


President Trump has a new Twitter target: Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who represents Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, which includes the Baltimore area. Over the weekend, the president tweeted about the district about a dozen times, calling it “very dangerous” and “badly run” and even tweeting videos of the area.

Rep. Cummings responded back, with half a dozen tweets of his own, condemning the president’s comments.

When comparing engagement of the tweets from Trump vs. those from Cummings, it’s worth noting that Trump has nearly 140 times as many followers (62.4 million) as the Maryland Representative (460,000).

However, even with his follower disadvantage, Cummings had the most-popular tweet in their weekend feud with more than 47,000 retweets. Trump’s top tweet mentioning Cummings, on the other hand, nabbed just over 44,000 retweets.

Overall, Cummings’ tweets mentioning Trump had an average of 12,400 retweets, while Trump’s tweets about Cummings had an average of 29,100 retweets.

The Spin Factor

The Many Messages on Mueller

Last week, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller dominated Congress’ Twitter conversation, with more than 1,200 mentions from the Spin Factor … and a variety of hashtags.

With former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s much-anticipated testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees last week, it’s no surprise that he topped Congress members’ conversation on Twitter.

In fact, six of the top 20 hashtags used by congressional lawmakers this week mentioned Mueller or his report on the 2016 election.

In total, there were 1,271 tweets mentioning Mueller by Congress—907 mentions by Democrats and 364 mentions by Republicans. That means 13 percent of Congressional Democrats’ tweets and 10 percent of Congressional Republicans’ tweets last week mentioned Mueller.

In the past, Republicans have been relatively quiet about Mueller’s investigation, so these numbers might be surprising. But, it seems Mueller has bipartisan interest in Congress.

Tweeter in Chief

Is Social Media Trump’s New News Media?

Last week, President Trump took aim at social media platforms at the White House’s Social Media Summit. Our analysis found Trump’s criticism of Twitter and Facebook resonates well with his followers.

The White House’s Social Media Summit last week made it clear that President Trump has a new target: social media platforms.

Trump’s top hashtag last week was #SocialMediaSummit (used eight times), while “social media” tied with “the border” for the president’s top bigram, or two-word combination (used 10 times) last week.

We analyzed Trump’s last 3,200 tweets (going back to Nov. 26, 2018) to see how he discussed the various social media platforms, and how those tweets resonated with his base.

Trump mentioned Twitter the most, with 17 tweets about the platform. The vast majority of those tweets were negative, with the exception of a retweet discussing how “united on Twitter” conservatives are, and an April tweet about a “great meeting” with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey at the White House.

Seven out of Trump’s eight tweets about Facebook were critical of the social media platform, while Trump’s lone mention of LinkedIn was a retweet mentioning a job offer through the platform.

The president’s tweets about Twitter and Facebook in particular are well received by his followers. Those tweets received an average of 27,949 and 25,688 retweets respectively. Both were more than Trump’s average engagement of 19,369 retweets per tweet.