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Axios-NewsWhip 2020 social media attention tracker: The might of right-wing media

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

This tracker looks at all the attention 2020 Democrats are generating from stories on social media, but many of the most viral pieces are actually being published by conservative media, according to data from NewsWhip exclusively provided to Axios.

Why it matters: The stories drive at wedge issues like immigration, redistributive policies and the culture war du jour, painting the Democratic candidates as radical leftists and serving as a testing ground for attacks from President Trump.

What's going on: Over the past two weeks, most of the stories about the candidates leading our tracker that generated the most interactions on Twitter (retweets and likes) and Facebook (reactions, comments and shares) came from conservative sites:

  • Joe Biden — 2 of the top 5 articles (Breitbart x2)
  • Kamala Harris — 4 of 5 (Fox News x2, Breitbart, The Federalist Papers)
  • Cory Booker — 4 of 5 (Fox News, The Federalist Papers, The Blaze, Daily Caller)
  • Julián Castro — 4 of 5 (Fox News, Washington Times x2, Breitbart)
  • Bernie Sanders — 3 of 5 (Fox Business, Breitbart, Fox News)
  • Elizabeth Warren — 1 of 5 (Daily Wire)

For Biden, Harris, Booker and Castro, the top story came from a conservative site. The articles run the gamut of conservative attack lines against Democrats.

  • Biden: "20 Times Breitbart Reported on Migrant Deaths During Obama-Biden Years and No One Cared" (Breitbart)
  • Harris: "Kamala Harris announces $100B plan for black homeownership, tackling racial wealth gap" (Fox News)
  • Booker: "Cory Booker crosses into Mexico to escort asylum seekers to US" (Fox News)
  • Castro: "Julián Castro, Beto O'Rourke back Nike, saying Betsy Ross flag is 'hurtful'" (Fox News)

The bottom line: While these stories might not be reaching many Democratic voters, they’re shaping the way a big chunk of the electorate looks at these candidates and exposing potential lines of attack for Trump to exploit.

What to watch: Liberal groups are trying to fight the conservative media machine with a string of new media companies.

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.

Past editions of the tracker: