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Expand chart
Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios - Note: Hover over the weekly rank on desktop to see articles and interactions for each candidate and issue.

It has hardly registered while impeachment consumes the country, but gun control has passed immigration as the issue generating the next most interest online over the last four months, according to data from NewsWhip provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: In a trend that could help shape the 2020 races, immigration — an issue that animates the right — is being usurped by a topic that animates the left.

By the numbers: Through July, stories related to immigration generated 554 million interactions (likes, comments, shares) on social media, while stories related to guns generated 269 million.

  • But since late August, stories about guns have generated 166 million interactions, compared to 131 million for immigration.
  • Foreign policy remains the number one topic while Ukraine stays in the news.

Yes, but: The 2020 Democrats have been markedly absent from the gun conversation.

  • Of the 200 biggest stories about guns in the last four months, the only ones centering on Democratic candidates were about Beto O'Rourke and Kamala Harris — both now out of the race.

Between the lines: Emotion about gun violence often spikes in the aftermath of high-profile shootings, but then disappears after a few weeks.

But after the El Paso and Dayton shootings on the first weekend in August, guns have stayed in the conversation, with a small spike following the shooting at a Naval base in Pensacola, Fla. this month.

Driving the news: The top story related to guns last week was when Houston police chief Art Acevedo railed against Sens. Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn for not reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act or acting on gun violence.

  • Acevedo: "I don't want to see their little smug faces about how much they care about law enforcement when I'm burying a sergeant because they don't want to piss off the NRA. Make up your minds, whose side are you on?"
  • CNN's story on the comments generated 513k interactions, more than twice as many as last week's top immigration story (227k).

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

2 hours ago - Health

CDC panel endorses Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

An advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday endorsed the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for 12-to 15-year-olds, following the FDA's emergency use authorization.

Why it matters: Approval from the CDC panel was the final step needed before inoculations could be offered at any vaccination site for this age group.

  • Pfizer has said its vaccine is 100% effective at protecting against COVID-19 in a trial of more than 2,200 children between the ages of 12 and 15.

GOP lawmakers downplay Capitol riot at House hearing

Photo: Jon Cherry via Getty Images

Republican members of Congress sought to minimize the Capitol insurrection at a House hearing on Wednesday, with statements calling pro-Trump rioters "patriots" and other lawmakers falsely denying demonstrators were supporters of the former president at all.

Driving the news: The hearing comes shortly after House Republicans voted to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from leadership over her criticism of former President Trump's actions leading up to and on Jan. 6.

McConnell, McCarthy say 2017 tax law is "red line" in infrastructure talks

The top Republicans in the House and Senate told reporters after meeting with President Biden at the White House that "there is a bipartisan desire to get an outcome" on an infrastructure package, but stressed that revisiting the 2017 tax cuts is a "red line."

Why it matters: Wednesday marked the first time that Biden has hosted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) at the White House.