Twitter Engagement Shows a Lopsided Debate Lineup

The Democratic National Committee held a two-part, random drawing to help ensure the 2020 presidential candidates were split fairly among next week’s two debates. However, an analysis of the 20 candidates’ Twitter engagement over the last week forecasts a lopsided lineup.

What does Twitter engagement tell us going into next week’s Democratic presidential debates?

The Thursday, June 27 (“purple group”) debate includes most of the Twitter heavyweights.

The Democratic National Committee held a two-part random drawing to determine how candidates would be split among the two debate nights. According to Vox, “This method was designed to ensure there was no ‘kids’ table’ debates with only the poorly polling candidates.”

However, six of the seven candidates with the highest Twitter engagement over the last week were randomly assigned to the second debate. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who averaged 1,533 retweets and 7,448 favorites per tweet last week, is the only top tweeter assigned to the first night.

Among the second debate night, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg tops the list with an average of 1,285 retweets and 11,484 favorites per tweet, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Perhaps even more telling is looking at the average Twitter engagement collectively by group. The “orange group” received an average of 507 retweets and 2,247 favorites last week, while the “purple group” received an average of 842 retweets and 3,929 favorites.

We’ll be keeping an eye on how the lopsided lineups impact the debates … and the candidates.