Points for Originality… but Does It Add Up to Votes?

Potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are quite original when it comes to their tweets. But they’ll have to increase their volume on Twitter to compete with Trump in 2020.

The majority of the rumored 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have one thing in common when it comes to their Twitter strategy: they tweet original content far more often than they retweet.

The one exception among these presidential hopefuls? Former HUD secretary Julian Castro, whose retweets account for 72.23% of his total Twitter activity this past week.

But when it comes to tweet volume, the Democratic presidential hopefuls have a long way to go to catch up with President Trump. The group tweeted an average of 22.6 times this week, compared to 67 tweets from the Tweeter in Chief.

While the potential Democratic candidates may get points for their originality, they’ll need to increase their volume to compete with Trump in 2020.

The Spin Factor

Dems Out-Tweet GOP on Midterm Elections … With One Exception

Over the last week, Democrats were tweeting significantly more than Republicans about the recent midterm elections. The one exception? Florida.

It’s been almost two weeks since the Nov. 6 midterm elections, but the process of tallying results and post-election analysis has continued. In fact, the Mississippi Senate race will go to a runoff election on Nov. 27.

Therefore, it may not be surprising that Congress members continue to discuss the election on Twitter, but we’re seeing some interesting party divides.

Democrats in Congress tweeted about the “election” 55 times, compared to Republicans’ 37 tweets. The difference was even more stark when looking at tweets that mentioned the word “vote” – 119 vs. 47.

But Republicans have been more vocal on Twitter about one specific state: Florida. GOP Congress members had 33 tweets on “Florida,” compared with Democrats’ 27 tweets.

With Democrats Sen. Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum both conceding their respective Florida races, we’ll be watching how the Spin Factor’s attention shifts towards Mississippi this month.

The Fourth Branch

United We Stand for Journalism

One of their peers became the story – and the focus on Twitter – when the White House revoked CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass after a heated exchange with the president.

The Trump Administration’s ban of CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta resulted in an uproar from the journalism community, and Twitter proves it. Last week, there were 133 mentions of CNN and 105 mentions of Jim Acosta from Washington, D.C., journalists and pundits. The group’s 10 most-popular tweets on the issue all came from reporters from other publications than CNN, including The New York Times, PBS, CBS, Washington Post and the Daily Beast.

Their tweets originally focused on the Administration’s changing story on the events that transpired during the White House’s press briefing and then shifted to celebrate U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly’s ruling, ordering the White House to temporarily restore Acosta’s press credentials.

Tweeter in Chief

Peak Originality

President Trump’s retweet game has slowed to a near halt. Only three of the president’s 57 tweets over the last week were retweets. And, one of those retweets was of @realDonaldTrump.

President Trump has seemingly taken a step back from his normal retweeting habits. Despite major election news and the California wildfires, President Trump has mostly kept to his own words on Twitter.

Since July 1, about 16% of the POTUS’ tweets were retweets. But this week, the president’s retweet rate dropped to 5.26%, while 94.74% – or 54 tweets – were original

While Trump did retweet three times over the last week, one of those was of himself, @RealDonaldTrump. The other two retweets were Trump-friendly Twitter accounts: @FoxNewsSunday and @WhiteHouse.


The Conversation White Paper: The Election and Trump Talk

Twitter Terminology: Trump vs. Incumbents 

Despite a highly polarized political climate leading up to the midterms, Republican and Democratic incumbents’ most-used words on Twitter converge, while Trump stands out.

It may not be surprising that President Trump, congressional Republican incumbents and congressional Democratic incumbents use different language on Twitter. But taking a closer look unveils an interesting relationship between the three groups.

When looking at the top 10 words used on Twitter by the three groups, Trump and Democratic incumbents have two terms in common: “Trump”  and “president.” Despite the overlap, it’s clear the sentiment is quite different when coming from Trump vs. the Democrats talking about him.

Surprisingly, Trump and GOP incumbents have zero top terms in common. Trump’s top terms include some of his key issues: “trade,” “border,” “fake,” and “news,” while GOP incumbents are focusing on traditional conservative talking points, such as “economy” and “tax.”

Meanwhile, congressional incumbents on both sides of the aisle appear to have more in common: four out of their top 10 terms, in fact. Despite the partisan environment, GOP and Democratic incumbents are using a more unifying tone on Twitter, with common terminology like “community,” “support,” “American” and “Congress.”

Talking Trump on Twitter

We took a look at the top words trump uses in his tweets. Can you guess who sounds most like the president on Twitter? Some of the answers may surprise you.

We know President Trump tweets a lot, but do you know his favorite words? Turns out it’s himself and his country. Of the top 20 words he uses, six include “president,” “trump,” “U.S.,” “country,” “America,” and “American.” Trump also frequently uses adjectives in his tweets such as “great,” “good,” “fake” (as in “fake news,”) and “big.”

But even more interesting is which congressional incumbents’ Twitter talk is most like the president’s. The first three are Republican Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (Mo.), John Rutherford (Fla.) and Mac Thornberry (Texas).

But surprisingly some Democrats also had high Trump Parrot scores. Rep. Maxine Waters (D- Calif.) had the fourth-highest Trump Parrot score, while Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) came in 7th and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) came in 10th.

All of the representatives on this list are in comfortable positions heading into tomorrow. But only time will tell if parroting Trump is a smart Twitter strategy.

Endorsements and Endorsing the President’s Twitter Talk

Many are watching whether Trump’s 93.3% primary endorsement record will hold in the General Election. But we’re watching something different – how did the 87 Republican candidates who nabbed a Trump endorsement start parroting the president’s language on Twitter. And, will it pay off at the polls?   

As of Nov. 1, President Trump has made 87 endorsements in the General Election. In battleground primary endorsements, Trump has a 93.3% (14-1) record. While we won’t know how Trump’s endorsement will affect the outcome of some of the most closely watched races for a day or two, we can look at how the president’s endorsement impacts candidates’ “parroting” scores.

The table below shows this group of candidates’ most popular words before and after a Trump endorsement.

Whether a candidate “speaks” like Trump on Twitter doesn’t appear to be a factor in whether they can nab a presidential endorsement. The percentage of the Trump Talk in this group’s tweets ranges from 7.78% (Diane Harkey, who is running for a California House seat) to 13.96% (Bob Stefanowski, who is running for Governor of Connecticut).

But perhaps more interesting is how a candidate’s tweets change after a Trump endorsement. Some candidates’ Trump talk significantly shifted after nabbing the president’s endorsement. Foster Friess, who is running for Governor of Wyoming, increased his Trump talk by more than 101%, while Rep. Erik Paulsen (Minn.), Mike DeWine, who is running for Ohio Governor, and Jim Hagerdorn, who is running for a Minnesota House seat, all saw their Trump talk jump between 66% and 75% after gaining an endorsement.

It’s worth noting that several candidates, like Rep. Neal Dunn (Fla.), Rep. Rod Blum (Iowa) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), actually declined in Trump Talk on Twitter post-endorsement.

So, will taking a page from Trump’s Twitter playbook make or break a candidate’s chance at the polls on Tuesday? We’ll be watching.

Tweeter in Chief

Tweet to the Polls

President Trump is hoping his Twitter base will turn up at the polls tomorrow. The president is using the social media platform to rally Republicans ahead of the midterms.

We all know by now that Twitter is the president’s go-to communications outlet, so it’s no surprise that President Trump is using the social platform to try to mobilize his conservative base ahead of the midterm elections.

In the week leading up to the midterms, one of the president’s most-used words on Twitter was “vote,” with 14 mentions. He also called out specific states with hotly contested races, like Florida, Virginia, Indiana, West Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Missouri.

The president also appeared to lean into some of his pet issues – border control, jobs and crime – to rally Republicans.

The president has a whopping 55.6 million Twitter followers. But can the president leverage that social media following to influence voter turnout? We’ll be watching.

The Fourth Branch

Trumping the Midterms

Over the past week, journalists tweeted about President Trump more than 2.5 times as often as they did about the upcoming midterm elections or voting. It appears the media sees the midterms as a test of the country’s support—or opposition—of the president, rather than a vote for a new Congress.

In the week leading up to the midterm elections, Washington, D.C., journalists and pundits were focused on one politician: President Trump. Trump is not up for re-election until 2020, but the media continues to view the president as a key player in this year’s election.

The Fourth Branch’s mentions of the president rose to nearly 1,400 tweets this week, compared to only 529 tweets that discussed voting or the election. It appears the media sees the midterms as a referendum on the president.

Tomorrow, we will see what the country decides.

The Spin Factor

Midterms or Bust

The Pittsburgh shooting has shaken the nation, but lawmakers’ most-popular tweets this week are about the midterms.

Despite the recent news of the Pittsburgh shooting and pipe bombs, Congress is continuing to focus its Twitter conversation on next Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Of the five congressional tweets with the most retweets over the past week, three are related to the upcoming election. The top tweet, by a large margin, is from Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) encouraging people to go out and vote. The second most-popular tweet was from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) responding to President Trump’s Tweet saying that Republicans will protect Americans with pre-existing conditions and encouraging his followers to “vote Republican.” The fifth most-popular tweet was from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) discussing the midterm election ballot.

Only time will tell how voters respond on Tuesday, but for now, Congress is rallying for a Nov. 6 showdown.

The Fourth Branch

When Tragedy Strikes, Twitter Looks to Journalists

There was a dramatic increase in journalists’ average retweets per tweet on Saturday, the day of the synagogue attack.

For most of the past week, Washington, D.C., journalists had a low average retweet-per-tweet count. But that changed Saturday in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack.

On Saturday, the group had approximately 196 tweets related to the shooting—nearly half of the total tweets that day. The information clearly resonated with audiences, as there were nearly 800 retweets per tweet.

Interestingly, the media’s tweets about other hot topics earlier in the week, such as the bombs mailed to anti-Trump leaders, did not receive nearly as much engagement.

All the President's Friends

Backing Up the President

The accounts President Trump follows on Twitter are backing him up when it comes to criticism of the caravan of Central American migrants heading toward the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact they are tweeting about the caravan four times more often than Congress.

As President Trump’s criticism of a caravan of Central American migrants heading toward the U.S.-Mexico border increased, the users he follows on Twitter – including @DiamondandSilk and @IngrahamAngle – backed him up.

President Trump’s friends tweeted about the migrant caravan 80 times this past week, compared with just 59 tweets from all 535 members Congress combined. Four percent of the tweets by Trump follows mentioned the word “caravan,” compared with 0.86 percent of tweets by congressional members.

Looking more closely at Congress, Republicans tweeted about the caravan nearly three times as often as Democrats.