Feb 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democrats drubbing Trumpless GOP on social media

Data: Twitter/CrowdTangle (Feb 24, 2021); Chart: Will Chase/Axios
Data: Twitter/CrowdTangle (Feb 24, 2021); Chart: Will Chase/Axios

In a swift reversal from 90 days ago, Democrats are now the ones with overpowering social media muscle and the ability to drive news.

The big picture: Former President Donald Trump’s digital exile and the reversal of national power has turned the tables on which party can keep a stranglehold on online conversation.

Across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the banishment of Trump and the loss of his massive following have left the GOP barren against Democrats' clout.

  • The combined Twitter following for the 10 elected Democrats with the biggest audiences is 102 million compared to 23 million for the top 10 Republicans. Even taking President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris out of the equation, Democrats' following is nearly triple Republicans'.
  • On Instagram over the last 30 days, the 10 most-engaged Democrats drove 76 million interactions vs. 6 million for the 10 most-engaged Republicans, according to CrowdTangle data. Take away Biden and Harris and the advantage is still double.
  • On Facebook, the top 10 Democrats have generated 2.5x more interactions than top 10 Republicans over the last 30 days, per CrowdTangle data.

Between the lines: Stars from the Democratic primary like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg accrued massive followings over the last few years.

  • With the Trump show crowding out everyone else over the last four years, few other Republicans had a chance to build their profiles.
  • Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul — all of 2016 GOP primary fame — currently have the three biggest Twitter followings among elected Republicans.

The picture for Republicans is particularly grim on Instagram, which has become a home for young, progressive politics.

  • While AOC has 8.9m followers and Sanders has 6.7m, Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw (2.3m) is the only elected Republican over a million.

Yes, but: Outside of elected officials, Republicans have a bigger bench of social clout, including the Trump family, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo and the potent right-wing media ecosystem.

Flashback: Democrats slogged through the Trump era powerless to break through the president’s ability to commandeer the national conversation through his Twitter feed.

  • Only after AOC’s election to Congress in 2018 did Democrats have an authentic social media powerhouse to counter Trump’s attention monopoly.

The bottom line: Trump is keeping himself in the 2024 conversation and his continued omnipresence, even without a digital footprint, could keep the rest of the party neutered.

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