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

Bernie Sanders captured more online conversation than any other candidate last week following his proposal to wipe out $1.6 trillion in student debt, according to data from NewsWhip exclusively provided to Axios as part of a project that will regularly update throughout the 2020 campaign.

Why it matters: It shows that the topics that got outsized media attention weren't the ones that animated people the most. Articles about Sanders generated 5.7 million interactions on Facebook and Twitter over the last week, 64% more than those about Biden, the candidate with the second-most interactions.

Reality check: Kamala Harris generated more interactions on debate day and the day after than any other candidate — but those numbers were still 16% shy of Bernie's for the Monday of the college debt policy release and the next day.

  • Biden had the second-highest numbers for a debate day, although many of those mentions were from stories about Harris' pointed criticism of his history with racial issues.

Between the lines: These numbers put on display the gulf between the coverage that is most visible with the coverage that generates the most intense interest. Coverage that emerges from a high-profile television event can be high-volume, low-engagement, while policy proposals that can be invisible until surfacing in social feeds can have an extraordinary velocity.

By the numbers: Forbes' story of Sanders' college debt proposal generated more than 769k interactions — almost four times more than the biggest story for any other candidate.

  • 5,031 stories were published about Bernie last week — 1,600 fewer than Harris and 3,800 fewer than Biden.
  • But the engagement for Bernie was much more intense: His stories got 1,129 interactions per article, compared to 393 for Biden and 514 for Harris.

Yes, but: While post-debate polling showed a marked uptick for Harris, Sanders' support was flat. It is an indication that while Sanders has an animated and active base, his support may be saturated.

  • His strong name recognition from the 2016 campaign means that he carried over much of that support, but may struggle to expand beyond that group.

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

Updated 33 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases hit a seven-month low — Majority back vaccine proof requirements for travel, schools and work — The race to avoid a possible "monster" COVID variant.
  2. Politics: Why Biden's latest vaccine goal is his hardest yet.
  3. Vaccines: Pfizer begins application for full FDA approval of COVID-19 vaccine — Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants.
  4. Economy: U.S. adds just 266,000 jobs in April, far below expectations — Americans' return to the skies could benefit smaller airlines.
  5. World: Amazon postpones Prime Day sales in India and Canada over coronavirus surge — Mixed response in Europe to Biden's vaccine patents bombshell — True COVID-19 death toll is double the official numbers, study finds.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Derek Chauvin, 3 former officers indicted on federal civil rights charges

Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

A federal grand jury Friday has indicted Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis officers for civil rights violations related to the death of George Floyd.

Why it matters: The new charges mean the officers could face another high-profile criminal trial following a yearlong racial reckoning across the nation.

U.S. adds just 266,000 jobs in April, far below expectations

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added a mere 266,000 jobs last month. Forecasters had floated gains close to 1 million, making this the biggest miss, relative to expectations, in decades.

Why it matters: It's a major setback for the hopes of a speedy labor-market recovery alongside America's great reopening.