Aug 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Charted: The social media hype of Oz vs. Fetterman

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

The number of online news articles and social media interactions about Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, has exceeded his Democratic rival John Fetterman's metrics for most of the year.

Why it matters: That's not necessarily a good thing. Oz is polling at an average of 10 points below Fetterman in what should be one of the most closely contested Senate seats in the nation.

  • The celebrity doctor's vulnerabilities as a candidate — including a stream of opposition research pushed by Democrats — has Republicans fearing they may have fumbled a golden opportunity to help retake the Senate in November.
  • In an otherwise favorable year for Republicans, the nomination of flawed or extremist candidates — including several backed by former President Trump — is threatening to disrupt the "red wave."

The intrigue: Fetterman's campaign has demonstrated a unique level of social media savvy, a major asset for a candidate who has been unable to keep a robust in-person campaigning schedule since suffering a stroke in May.

  • He recently launched a campaign to induct Oz into the New Jersey Hall of Fame and has enlisted New Jersey celebrities (such as Snooki of "Jersey Shore" fame) to troll his opponent for moving from the Garden State to run in Pennsylvania.
  • The petition was the 11th-most shared article about Oz on social media, while more than a dozen of the top 100 articles about Fetterman reference his trolling efforts.

By the numbers: From January through July, there were more than 22,000 articles shared on social media about Oz, compared to over 9,000 shared about Fetterman, according to data from social analysis firm NewsWhip.

  • Oz stories yielded 2.6 million interactions, while Fetterman's received just under one million.
  • Fetterman started gaining traction in May when he won the Democratic primary and even surpassed Oz's interactions in late June.

Oz's top performing stories:

  • Dr. Oz calls Fauci a 'petty tyrant,' challenges him to debate
  • Biden requests Mehmet Oz and Herschel Walker resign from presidential council or be terminated
  • Dr. Mehmet Oz challenges Dr. Anthony Fauci to a debate, calls him 'a petty tyrant' and 'the J. Edgar Hoover of public health'

Fetterman's top performing stories:

  • Progressives Want To Make Airlines Give You A Refund For Delays And Cancellations
  • Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman Wins Democratic Senate Nomination
  • Fetterman wins Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary, GOP race is too close to call

What to watch: Media coverage and anticipation have been building for Fetterman's rally on Friday in Erie.

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