Aug 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Michelle Obama won the Democratic convention

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

No speaker at the Democratic National Convention came close to generating as much online enthusiasm as Michelle Obama, according to NewsWhip data shared exclusively with Axios.

Why it matters: By these measures, the most effective messenger in the Democratic Party is not even a politician.

By the numbers: Among the 100 most viral stories about DNC topics this past week, there were 7.56 million social media interactions (likes, comments, shares) on stories about Michelle Obama's speech.

  • That's 5x more than the estimated total for the next closest person — her husband.
  • Joe Biden, the presidential nominee and the main focus of the convention, came in third.

Between the lines: Many of the best-performing articles around Michelle Obama called for readers to watch or read the full speech, framed neutrally.

  • Other top items were headlined around memorable lines from her speech — "in over his head," "the wrong president for our country," and "it is what it is."
  • On the right, the most traction for stories about her speech came around the Associated Press fact-checking her claim that the Trump administration put kids in cages. (It concluded that while the Trump administration did own the policy of separating families, the reference to "cages" was misleading.)

The details: Barack Obama had the second-most interactions, followed by Biden and then President Trump.

  • Kamala Harris, the vice presidential nominee and the other subject of praise during the week, was far down on the list, with only one story in the top 100.
  • The data captured all of the social media interactions as of Friday morning — including stories about Biden and Harris's acceptance speeches.
  • For Wednesday and Thursday's articles, NewsWhip's predicted interactions account for where the stories could be expected to wind up, factoring in whether they were gaining or losing traction as of Friday morning.

While left-leaning audiences ate up stories about the Obamas — as well as Republicans who have embraced Biden, like Cindy McCain and John Kasich — conservative audiences fixated on a handful of storylines that would be invisible to many people with liberal feeds.

  • The top storyline was the presence of undocumented immigrants in the convention program — one of whom expressed a desire for health care access.
  • Another top theme on the right was pillorying the 42nd president: "Bill Clinton Lectures Donald Trump About His Conduct In ‘The Oval Office’ During DNC Convention Speech" (Daily Wire) and "Man Who Had Oval Office Affair with Intern Condemns Trump's Use of Oval Office" (Western Journal).
  • Right-wing publications also leaned into videos of caucus meetings at the convention that showed the Pledge of Allegiance being recited without "under God."
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