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Data: Twitter/CrowdTangle (Feb 24, 2021); Chart: Will Chase/Axios

In a swift reversal from 90 days ago, Democrats are now the ones with overpowering social media muscle and the ability to drive news.

The big picture: Former President Donald Trump’s digital exile and the reversal of national power has turned the tables on which party can keep a stranglehold on online conversation.

Across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the banishment of Trump and the loss of his massive following have left the GOP barren against Democrats' clout.

  • The combined Twitter following for the 10 elected Democrats with the biggest audiences is 102 million compared to 23 million for the top 10 Republicans. Even taking President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris out of the equation, Democrats' following is nearly triple Republicans'.
  • On Instagram over the last 30 days, the 10 most-engaged Democrats drove 76 million interactions vs. 6 million for the 10 most-engaged Republicans, according to CrowdTangle data. Take away Biden and Harris and the advantage is still double.
  • On Facebook, the top 10 Democrats have generated 2.5x more interactions than top 10 Republicans over the last 30 days, per CrowdTangle data.

Between the lines: Stars from the Democratic primary like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg accrued massive followings over the last few years.

  • With the Trump show crowding out everyone else over the last four years, few other Republicans had a chance to build their profiles.
  • Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul — all of 2016 GOP primary fame — currently have the three biggest Twitter followings among elected Republicans.

The picture for Republicans is particularly grim on Instagram, which has become a home for young, progressive politics.

  • While AOC has 8.9m followers and Sanders has 6.7m, Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw (2.3m) is the only elected Republican over a million.

Yes, but: Outside of elected officials, Republicans have a bigger bench of social clout, including the Trump family, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo and the potent right-wing media ecosystem.

Flashback: Democrats slogged through the Trump era powerless to break through the president’s ability to commandeer the national conversation through his Twitter feed.

  • Only after AOC’s election to Congress in 2018 did Democrats have an authentic social media powerhouse to counter Trump’s attention monopoly.

The bottom line: Trump is keeping himself in the 2024 conversation and his continued omnipresence, even without a digital footprint, could keep the rest of the party neutered.

Go deeper

Feb 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Cheney's take on Trump highlights GOP split about future

Kevin McCarthy and Liz Cheney on Wednesday. Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

Rep. Liz Cheney is staking her claim as a new thought leader for the GOP, seizing on her role as the Republicans' Trump critic-in-chief while the party navigates its post-MAGA future.

Why it matters: Cheney is offering the party a more traditional brand of conservatism and serving as the guinea pig for other Republicans eager to break with the former president but wary of the fallout. The emerging question is whether both party factions can win not just primaries but general elections.

Trump’s blunt weapon: State GOP leaders

Trump supporters rally near Mar-a-Lago on Feb. 15. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President Trump didn't have to punish his critics in Congress — his allies back in the states instantly and eagerly did the dirty work.

Why it matters: Virtually every Republican who supported impeachment was censured back home, or threatened with a primary challenge.

Pompeo plots 2024 power play

Mike Pompeo in Washington on Feb. 12. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Mike Pompeo has quickly reentered the political fray, raising money for Republicans, addressing key political gatherings and joining an advocacy group run by Donald Trump's former lawyer.

Why it matters: The former secretary of state is widely considered a potential 2024 presidential contender. His professional moves this week indicate he's working to keep his name in the headlines and bolster a political brand built largely on foreign policies easily contrasted with the Biden White House.