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Expand chart
Data: NewsWhip; Baby Yoda photo: Jon Favreau's Instagram; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Baby Yoda, the juggernaut character from Disney+'s Star Wars series "The Mandalorian," is driving almost twice as many average social media interactions on news stories about it as any 2020 Democrat, according to data from NewsWhip exclusively provided to Axios.

Why it matters: The internet's most memeable 50-year-old broke through the online conversation in a huge way since the show's Nov. 12 premiere — and its viral success should worry the 2020 race's late Democratic entrants, Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick.

The big picture: Both Bloomberg and Patrick staked their runs on the idea that voters would hungrily embrace a fresh face to shake up the 2020 race — but compared to Baby Yoda, they're not exactly capturing the public's imagination.

  • Baby Yoda's introduction coincided with both Bloomberg and Patrick announcing their bids. Bloomberg officially jumped into the race over the weekend — but spent weeks telegraphing his run — while Patrick entered on Nov. 14.
  • Both of the newest 2020 Democrats have had a significant number of articles written about them since Nov. 12. Bloomberg ranks second among the Democratic pack with 7,650, while Patrick slots into fourth with 4,044.
  • That media saturation doesn't necessarily translate to reader interest. With Baby Yoda in the mix with the 2020 Democrats, Bloomberg ranks 14th and Patrick 16th in terms of average interactions (likes, comments, shares) per story about them — and Baby Yoda has notched an average interaction rate 10 times higher than theirs.

By the numbers: In terms of raw interactions since Nov. 12, Baby Yoda's 2.28 million trail only the Democratic race's group of frontrunners — Joe Biden (8 million), Bernie Sanders (2.9 million) and Elizabeth Warren (2.53 million).

  • But the rate of interactions is massive when you consider that Baby Yoda would only rank 10th in terms of the number of articles (1,368) written about it.

The bottom line: Because this data only captures interactions with news stories, it doesn't take in the wealth of Baby Yoda memes, GIFs, and content native to social media — meaning that the character's reach is probably far wider.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron's blitz around the world has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.