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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

Updated 9 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Military members will be included in Biden's new COVID guidance

Joe Biden. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Members of the military will be required to get vaccinations or face regular testing, social distancing, mask mandates and restrictions on travel for work, the the Pentagon said on Thursday evening.

Why it matters: The policy was announced for federal workers and onsite contractors earlier on Thursday, part of several new Biden initiatives to get more Americans vaccinated and slow the spread of the Delta variant.

Trump's Republican critics rake in cash

Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger during the first Jan. 6 hearing. Photo: Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

Republican critics of Donald Trump have raked in campaign cash this year as their votes to impeach the former president and investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol attack have put them in the crosshairs of Trump and his allies.

Why it matters: The 2022 midterms won't just determine which party controls Congress. They're also shaping up to be a test of Trump's continued hold on the GOP. The few remaining Republican dissenters in Washington need to put up big fundraising numbers if they hope to stave off a purge.

The Republicans' mixed mandate message

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Republicans have expressed selective rage amid the rise of the Delta variant: They rail against the return of indoor masking but are far less vocal about vaccine requirements.

Why it matters: Masking may help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, but the real solution to the pandemic is getting more Americans vaccinated. Increased support for that — including the use of heavier-handed methods like mandates — will only increase its chance of succeeding.