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

Negative stories about the Trump administration's immigration policies are getting much more online attention than stories that appeal to readers with immigration views aligned with the president, according to data from NewsWhip exclusively provided to Axios.

Why it matters: According to this tracker — which measures reach and engagement — immigration has been the top issue throughout the campaign by far, and President Trump has continuously leaned into it because he sees it as a political winner. This data shows that he's losing the war of how this issue is being framed online.

  • The stories that are getting the most traction are largely horror accounts and depictions of squalor at detainment facilities near the border.

By the numbers: Since March 1, among the top 100 articles about immigration, those likely to appeal to critics of the administration generated 23.1 million interactions on social media. Those likely to appeal to readers who support the president's agenda have generated 11.1 million interactions.

  • Interactions include reactions, comments and shares on Facebook and likes and retweets on Twitter.
  • Among those top 100 articles, 50 appealed to administration critics, 33 had pro-administration sentiment and 17 had no clear leaning or no clear relation to the administration's immigration policies.

The top 5 immigration articles by sentiment:

Appeal to Trump critics

  1. The father and daughter who drowned at the border were desperate for a better life, family says (Washington Post, 1.58 million interactions)
  2. A firsthand report of 'inhumane conditions' at a migrant children's detention facility (PBS, 1.28M)
  3. Nearly 900 migrants found at Texas facility with 125-person capacity: DHS watchdog (ABC News, 1.12M)
  4. ‘There is a Stench’: Soiled Clothes and No Baths for Migrant Children at a Texas Center (New York Times, 1.07M)
  5. Trump Administration Argues Detained Migrant Children Don't Need Toothbrushes, Soap (Newsweek, 978k)

Appeal to Trump supporters

  1. Obama Built The 'Cages' for Illegals, Not Trump, Says Obama ICE Chief (PJ Media, 1.43M)
  2. Private group with GoFundMe page just built a mile of Trump's border wall in 3 days! (The Right Scoop, 580k)
  3. Child Rapist Found Back in Kansas, Only Nine Days After He Was Deported (Illegal Alien Crime Report, 475k)
  4. Democrat Congresswoman Secretly Sending Staff To Mexico To Coach Migrants How To Beat System, Report Says (Daily Wire, 426k)
  5. California becomes 1st state to give taxpayer-funded health benefits to illegal immigrants (Fox News, 419k)

Between the lines: As Axios' Stef Kight points out, it's telling that the top conservative article embraces the disgust at cages, which has been a liberal line of attack, but shifts the blame away from the Trump administration.

The big picture: It wasn't a given that the top-performing immigration articles would be critical of Trump.

  • When we applied this same analysis to the top-performing articles between January and November 2016, we found that anti-immigration stories — those that bolstered Trump's criticisms of immigration policy — generated 67% more interactions.

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.

See all past editions of the tracker here.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
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Why it matters: Despite being propped up by an extraordinary amount of fiscal stimulus and support from central banks, the state of the global economy remains fragile.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

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CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

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  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.