Nov 2, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Trump rules social media, crushes 2020 Democrats

The Democratic 2020 candidates drew more social media attention than ever in October — but were still swamped by President Trump’s ever-present dominance of what we share and debate, according to data from NewsWhip exclusively provided to Axios.

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios
Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Why it matters: Trump attracted three times the attention of all the Democratic candidates combined, underscoring how he consumes the social media conversation. 

By the numbers: The 2020 Democratic candidates picked up a combined 58 million social media interactions (likes, comments, shares) on stories about them. But that's dwarfed by Trump's 181 million, the NewsWhip data shows. 

The big picture: As has been the case since he entered the Republican field in 2015, much of the online attention on Trump has been negative.

  • But the net effect of higher interactions means many more Americans learning about Trump's comments, actions and policies and making determinations about them, rather than doing so for his Democratic challengers.
  • This reality extends beyond these measures: The same dynamic plays out on cable news, and Trump's Twitter account is a bigger amplifier than any of his competitors.

Between the lines: That Trump has this much share of attention is not just a consequence of holding the presidency.

  • In the month before the 2016 election, Trump had more than 7 times the interactions of President Obama, according to NewsWhip data.

The bottom line: A major reason for Trump's success in 2016 was his ability to get Republicans to care about issues that had taken on life only at the fringes of the party: immigration, economic nationalism and racial resentment.

  • His personality, style and knack for getting attention were key ingredients.
  • Democrats will have to fight against the current of Trump attention in order to get their ideas front and center.

Our 2020 attention tracker is based on data from NewsWhip exclusively provided to Axios as part of a project that will regularly update throughout the 2020 campaign.

Go deeper: See all past editions of the tracker here.

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