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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

Alabama trying to use COVID relief funds to expand prisons

Inside the Julia Tutwiler Correctional Facility in Wetumpka, Alabama in 2018. Photo: Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

Alabama state lawmakers are trying to funnel up to $400 million of the state's American Rescue Plan funds to pay for a $1.3 billion plan to build and renovate prisons across the state, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: Diverting dollars from the COVID-relief package, passed in March, is prompting criticism over misuse.

53 mins ago - World

Jake Sullivan discussed human rights and Yemen with Saudi crown prince

MBS in 2018. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed efforts to end the war in Yemen, the de-escalation of regional tensions with Iran, and Saudi Arabia's human rights record in their meeting on Monday, a senior U.S. official told Axios.

Why it matters: This was Sullivan's first trip to the Middle East since taking up his post in January, and he was the most senior visitor to the kingdom so far from the Biden administration, which has kept the crown prince at arm's length over his roles in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Top Pentagon officials contradict Biden on Afghanistan advice

Photo: Carolone Brehman/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Top military leaders confirmed in a Senate hearing Tuesday they recommended earlier this year that the U.S. keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, and that they believed withdrawing those forces would lead to the collapse of the Afghan military.

Why it matters: Biden denied last month that his top military advisers wanted troops to remain in Afghanistan, telling ABC's George Stephanopoulos: "No one said that to me that I can recall."